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Trying to rewrite history … again

Even the Washington Post has a problem swallowing the latest Obama attempt at rewriting history (with the usual motive of passing off the blame to someone or something else).  As usual, Obama is trying to have it both ways while waving away his culpability in the problems and deaths now taking place in Iraq:

President Obama surprised a few people during a news conference Thursday by claiming that the 2011 decision to withdraw all U.S. forces from Iraq, a politically popular move on the eve of an election year, was made entirely by his Iraqi counterpart. The implication ran counter to a number of claims that Obama has made in the past, most notably during a tight campaign season two years ago, when he suggested that it was his decision to leave Iraq and end an unpopular war.

His remarks, coming as an Islamist insurgency seizes territory across northern Iraq and threatens the central government, recalled key moments in his reelection race when he called his opponent hopelessly out of step with Middle East realities for wanting to keep U.S. forces in the still-fragile country America had invaded nearly a decade earlier.

In the 2012 campaign’s stretch, Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney met inside the performing arts center of Lynn University for the last of three presidential debates. The race remained close, and in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission and CIA-run annex in Benghazi, Libya, the Romney team saw foreign policy as an area of potential vulnerability for the incumbent. The debate focused on the issue.

For much of that election year, Obama had included a line of celebration in his standard stump speech, one that among an electorate exhausted by more than a decade of war always drew a rousing applause: “Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq,” Obama proclaimed in Bowling Green, Ohio, in September 2012, and did nearly every day after until the election. “We did.”

For Obama, who four years earlier had distinguished himself from Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton through his opposition to the war in Iraq, the fact he had withdrawn all U.S. forces from the country was a problem solved and a political chip to be cashed in come November.

It was also a way to once again draw contrasts with Romney, who criticized Obama for failing to secure a so-called status of forces agreement with the Iraqi government. The agreement would have granted immunity from Iraqi prosecution to all U.S. troops in country after 2011. Reaching such a deal — a political risk for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — would have allowed a contingent of several thousand U.S. troops to remain, largely to help with training and specific counter-terrorism operations.

“With regards to Iraq, you and I agreed, I believe, that there should be a status of forces agreement,” Romney told Obama as the two convened on the Lynn University campus in Boca Raton, Fla., that October evening. “That’s not true,” Obama interjected. “Oh, you didn’t want a status of forces agreement?” Romney asked as an argument ensued. “No,” Obama said. “What I would not have done is left 10,000 troops in Iraq that would tie us down. That certainly would not help us in the Middle East.”

On Thursday, Obama addressed reporters in the White House Briefing Room about Iraq’s latest crisis. “Do you wish you had left a residual force in Iraq? Any regrets about that decision in 2011?” a reporter asked. “Well, keep in mind that wasn’t a decision made by me,” Obama said. “That was a decision made by the Iraqi government.”

While the last statement is technically true, it’s because the Obama administration had engineered it to be that way.  They knew full well how all of our other Status of Forces Agreements were done and deliberately included conditions and a step that was unnecessary that all but guaranteed rejection by the Iraqi government.

Here’s a little history of the time (written in October of 2011):

Quite simply it was a matter of will: President Bush really wanted to get a deal done, whereas Mr. Obama did not. Mr. Bush spoke weekly with Mr. Maliki by video teleconference. Mr. Obama had not spoken with Mr. Maliki for months before calling him in late October to announce the end of negotiations. Mr. Obama and his senior aides did not even bother to meet with Iraqi officials at the United Nations General Assembly in September.

The administration didn’t even open talks on renewing the Status of Forces Agreement until this summer, a few months before U.S. troops would have to start shuttering their remaining bases to pull out by Dec. 31. The previous agreement, in 2008, took a year to negotiate.

The recent negotiations were jinxed from the start by the insistence of State Department and Pentagon lawyers that any immunity provisions be ratified by the Iraqi parliament—something that the U.S. hadn’t insisted on in 2008 and that would be almost impossible to get today. In many other countries, including throughout the Arab world, U.S. personnel operate under a Memorandum of Understanding that doesn’t require parliamentary ratification. Why not in Iraq? Mr. Obama could have chosen to override the lawyers’ excessive demands, but he didn’t.

He also undercut his own negotiating team by regularly bragging—in political speeches delivered while talks were ongoing—of his plans to “end” the “war in Iraq.” Even more damaging was his August decision to commit only 3,000 to 5,000 troops to a possible mission in Iraq post-2011. This was far below the number judged necessary by our military commanders. They had asked for nearly 20,000 personnel to carry out counterterrorist operations, support American diplomats, and provide training and support to the Iraqi security forces. That figure was whittled down by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to 10,000, which they judged to be the absolute minimum needed.

The Iraqis knew about these estimates: U.S. military commanders had communicated them directly to Iraqi leaders. Prime Minister Maliki was said (by those who had talked to him) to privately support such a troop commitment, and almost all Iraqi political leaders—representing every major faction except for the rabidly anti-American Sadrists—assented on Aug. 2 to opening negotiations on that basis.

When the White House then said it would consent to no more than 5,000 troops—a number that may not even have been able to adequately defend itself, much less carry out other missions—the Iraqis understandably figured that the U.S. wasn’t serious about a continued commitment. Iraqi political leaders may have been willing to risk a domestic backlash to support a substantial commitment of 10,000 or more troops. They were not willing to stick their necks out for such a puny force. Hence the breakdown of talks.

So the talks on SOFA broke down giving Obama a reason to “end the war” and to blame the breakdown on Iraq and Iraq’s government.  Perfect.

And now we see the result.  He has someone to blame the problem on even as the history of how and why what happened happened seems to be lost in the mist.  This was a deliberately staged and engineered outcome.  By making an unacceptable offer and requiring other than the leadership of Iraq to endorse the deal, they knew it would fail.  And that means the usual … another of our allies thrown under the bus.  Yes, Maliki isn’t any bargain.  And yes, he’s done as poor a job with Iraq as Obama has done in America.  But there are two people that should be under the bus, and we all know who the second one is.

Don’t let him rewrite this bit of history to his advantage.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 19 Jun 14

The general conditions index of the Philadelphia Fed Survey rose 2.4 points to a very strong 17.8.

The Conference Board’s index of leading economic indicators rose 0.5 percent in May, following April’s 0.3% rise.

Weekly initial jobless claims fell 6,000 to 312,000. The 4-week average fell 3,000 to 311,750. Continuing claims fell 54,000 to a new recovery low of 2.561 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 1.6 points to 37.1 in the latest week, near recovery highs.

The Fed’s balance sheet increased $27.3 billion last week, with total assets of $4.368 trillion. Total reserve bank credit rose by $28.8 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply fell $-9.3 billion in the latest week.


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Economic Statistics for 18 Jun 14

The MBA reports that rising mortgage rates sent mortgage applications down -9.2% in the latest week. Purchases fell -5.0%, while re-fis dropped -13.0%.

The nation’s current account deficit the 1st Quarter of 2014 rose to $-111.2 billion from a revised $-87.3 billion in 4Q 2013.

The Federal Open Markets Committee left interest rates unchanged today, with a Fed Funds target rate of 0% – 0.25%.

The FOMC’s June projection for economic growth: 2014: 2.1-2.3%; 2015: 3.0-3.2%; 2016: 2.5-3.0%; longer run: 2.1-2.2%. Again, the prediction is for continuing subpar GDP growth.


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As the polls go …

The polls continue to show an erosion of public support for President Obama.  Here are 4 interesting paragraphs describing the latest:

Foreign crises and domestic economic unease have eroded President Barack Obama‘s public standing, sapping his ability to respond to overseas conflicts and weighing on fellow Democrats heading into the midterm elections.

As clouds gather abroad, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds Mr. Obama’s job approval rating at 41%, matching a previous low. Approval of his handling of foreign policy hit a new low of 37%. Both numbers are driven in part by conflicts largely outside the president’s control, including a new wave of sectarian violence in Iraq.

This latest dip in Mr. Obama’s approval runs contrary to signs Americans agree with his policies on climate change and education, and as a divided Republican Party remains far less popular than the president and his party. Despite misgivings toward Mr. Obama, the survey showed the public sides with him and his fellow Democrats on a range of issues, including immigration, education and the environment. (Interactive: Poll Results)

The latest Journal poll of 1,000 adults, conducted between Wednesday and Sunday, highlights what appears to be a lasting slide in the president’s public image. Respondents split in half on whether the Obama administration is competent, lower marks than Americans gave former PresidentGeorge W. Bush‘s administration in 2006, after the war in Iraq and the bungled response to Hurricane Katrina derailed his presidency.

Now you remember that time don’t you?  The time of Katrina and Iraq?  The time when Democrats lined up to get in front of the cameras and declare George Bush “incompetent”?  Yeah, me too.  And now the guy who was all too happy to participate in that labeling, has managed to do worse.

What does that make him?

Note too the attempt to put lipstick on this pig – “…Americans agree with his policies on climate change and education, and as a divided Republican Party remains far less popular than the president and his party. Despite misgivings toward Mr. Obama, the survey showed the public sides with him and his fellow Democrats on a range of issues, including immigration, education and the environment.”

There’s only one problem with this list of issues of “agreement” – they are all low priority issues for the public.  Jobs.  Economy.  War.  Spending.  Those are what top the list.  And then there’s the matter of bungled health care, scandals and of course, the collapse of any semblance of a foreign policy that this administration might have had.  Frankly, I’m being kind with the last one.  If there’s been a real foreign policy at work for these past 6 years, it’s been as well hidden as Lois Lerner’s emails.

I’d love to say, “I told you so”, I’d love to talk about irony and shadenfreude.  But this is too pitiful a performance to be flip about. And the consequences are real. I see articles about how this guy is now “tired” of being president. He’s “bored” with the job. How could he be either bored or tired – he hasn’t done the job at all.

Got to say, in all my years – and I lived through the Carter era – I’ve never seen this country in such pitiful shape. Never. Mr. Obama has done enough damage, in the foreign relations arena, that it will take decades to undo. The only silver lining, and I’ve mentioned it before, is that one of his goals was to prove big government could be competent and beneficial. He has proven precisely the opposite to be true.

Perhaps the Democrats aren’t calling him “incompetent” for a reason.

Incompetent doesn’t begin to cover how bad this President and his administration are.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 16 Jun 14

The Empire State manufacturing index remained strong for June, rising a slight 0.27 points to a strong 19.28.

The Treasury reports that net foreign demand for long-term US securities fell $-24.2 billion in June.

Industrial production rose 0.6% in May, while capacity utilization in the nation’s factories rose 0.5% to 79.1%.

The NAHB housing market index for June rose 4 points to 49, just one point under the break-even reading of 50.


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The pathetic bias of the New York Times, summarized in two pics

(This screen cap done at 9:00 AM CST 15 June, 2014)

We’ve known that the New York Times has been part of the palace guard for Democrats for quite a while.* But this is a new low.

If 18 minutes of lost taped conversations in Nixon’s White House is good for weeks of coverage, surely close to two years of lost emails from someone accused targeting the president’s political opponents is even more important.

The story has been on the networks’ web sites since Friday (NBC, CBS, Fox) plus outlets like Forbes, the Fiscal Times, and lots of others. Given that, no serious, objective media outlet would ever ignore the lost IRS email story for two days, and leave it out of their biggest edition of the week. Not the “paper of record”. Not the publication that brags it contains “all the news that’s fit to print”.

But that’s exactly what the Times has done.

The Washington Post is marginally better. No front page story, as the story manifestly deserves. No original reporting, even though the story is in their own backyard. But they do have a couple of Associated Press reports in two sections Politics and Business (yeah, Business – I don’t get it either).

If you still think the Times and Post have not chosen sides politically, then you are a willfully blind, naive fool.

 

*Occasionally a decent article slips through, or perhaps is done as camouflage to bolster the idea that they are serious objective journalists. They stopped fooling anyone connected to reality quite a while back.

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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 13 Jun 14

This week, Michael, and Dale talk about Bowe Bergdahl and the economy.

The podcast can be found on Stitcher here. Please remember the feed may take a couple of hours to update after this is first posted.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Stitcher. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here.

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Economic Statistics for 13 Jun 14

Producer prices for final demand fell -0.2% in May, and are up 2.0% on a year-over-year basis. PPI-FD less food & energy: -0.1 %, PPI-FD less food, energy & trade services: 0.0 %, PPI-FD Goods: -0.1 %, PPI-FD Services: -0.2 %.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index fell -0.7 points to 81.2 in June.


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So many debacles, so little time

With the relase of the 5 Taliban leaders for a deserter, we’ve been mostly assured, by the usual suspects, that they won’t go back to war with us and anyone who thinks they will, well that’s “baloney” per John Kerry.  That there has been a “deal” made and we were “promised” that wouldn’t happen.  That’s sort of like believing gun control laws will keep guns out of the hands of criminals … it strains credulity.

And, frankly, we’re apparently pretty good at reseeding terrorist ranks as it turns out.  Take the terrorist organization ISIS which is now brutalizing Iraq:

The United States once had Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in custody at a detention facility in Iraq, but president Barack Obama let him go, it was revealed on Friday.

Al Baghdadi was among the prisoners released in 2009 from the U.S.’s now-closed Camp Bucca near Umm Qasr in Iraq.

But now five years later he is leading the army of ruthless extremists bearing down on Baghdad who want to turn the country into an Islamist state by blazing a bloody trail through towns and cities, executing Iraqi soldiers, beheading police officers and gunning down innocent civilians.

Even I remember al Baghdadi’s name and the massive hunt to bring him to ground.  He was murderous scum then, and he’s murderous scum now.  How in the world  we ever let someone like that go is, well, something the Obama administration would have to explain.

Don’t bother asking … the answer is “it’s Bushes fault, you racist”.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 12 Jun 14

Weekly initial jobless claims rose 4,000 to 317,000. The 4-week average rose 5,000 to 315,250. Continuing claims rose 11,000 to 2.614 million.

Retail sales for May rose 0.3% overall, but were only up 0.1% less autos, and were unchanged from April less autos & gas.

Both export and import prices rose 0.1% in May. On a year over year basis, export prices rose 0.5%, as import prices rose 0.4%.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose o.4 points to 35.5 in the latest week.

Business inventories rose a higher than expected 0.6% in April, but a 0.7% sales increase kept the stock-to-sales ratio at 1.29.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $10.0 billion last week, with total assets of $4.341 trillion. Total reserve bank credit rose by $8.8 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose $10.9 billion in the latest week.


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