February 20, 2014
The Astonishing Influence of Barack Obama
Dateline: February 19, 2014. Barack Obama issues a stern warning to Ukrainian President Yanukovich
President Barack Obama on Wednesday urged Ukraine to avoid violence against peaceful protesters or face consequences, as the United States considered joining European partners to impose sanctions aimed at ending deadly street clashes that are sparking fears of civil war.
“There will be consequences if people step over the line,” Obama said shortly after landing in Mexico for a summit with the leaders of Mexico and Canada, as fires burned in central Kiev. “And that includes making sure that the Ukrainian military does not step in to what should be a set of issues that can be resolved by civilians.”
Dateline: February 20, 2014. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich responds to Barack Obama's empty threat.
Ukraine suffered its bloodiest day since Soviet times on Thursday with a gun battle in central Kiev as President Viktor Yanukovich faced conflicting pressures from visiting European Union ministers and his Russian paymasters.
Three hours of fierce fighting in Independence Square, which was recaptured by anti-government protesters, left the bodies of over 20 civilians strewn on the ground, a few hundred meters from where the president met the EU delegation.
Riot police were captured on video shooting from a rooftop at demonstrators in the plaza, known as the Maidan or "Euro-Maidan". Protesters hurled petrol bombs and paving stones to drive the security forces off a corner of the square the police had captured in battles that began on two days earlier.
Kiev's city health department said 67 people had been killed since Tuesday, which meant at least 39 died in Thursday's clashes. That was by far the worst violence since Ukraine emerged from the crumbling Soviet Union 22 years ago.
Obama opens his mouth, Yanukovich is a good to go with the riot police. Another Red Line that begged to be crossed — and in only one day.
February 08, 2014
Leveraging The Lack of Economic Education
Casey Mulligan, professor of economics at University of Chicago, studies the impact of government decisions on the incentives and disincentives for work. It so happens that Professor Mulligan's work had some influence on the recent CBO study that said the impact of ObamaCare would be the equivalent of 2.5 million jobs lost.
In response to the study Democrats, leftists, and their friends in the media are now claiming that job losses like this are a good thing.
Thanks to ObamaCare, we're told, Americans can finally quit the salt mines and blacking factories and retire early, or spend more time with the children, or become artists.
Funny, they didn't always think that way. As a matter of fact, ObamaCare was projected to create jobs, not destroy them. In 2011 David Cutler of Harvard and Harold Pollack of the University of Chicago put together a letter that was signed by dozens of left-wing economists. The letter said that ObamaCare would boost the economy, creating 250,000 to 400,000 jobs annually. Oopsies.
Well, maybe jobs don't matter after all. Especially the upside is a bumper crop of new artists! Whatever.
No matter the fallout from ObamaCare, we know one thing. Democrats and other lefties will say it's all good. OK, it hasn't fueled America's economic engine as advertised. So what if economy has been in the tank for Obama's entire administration? That's a good thing. And if it's not good it's George Bush's fault.
Mr. Mulligan reserves particular scorn for the economists making this "eliminated from the drudgery of labor market" argument, which he views as a form of trahison des clercs. "I don't know what their intentions are," he says, choosing his words carefully, "but it looks like they're trying to leverage the lack of economic education in their audience by making these sorts of points."
Let's see how that leverage works out come November. Sooner or later you might expect even low information voters to begin wondering about all the contradictions surrounding ObamaCare. Maybe not.
February 06, 2014
Advice for Republicans -- From James Carville
Well actually, his advice is for Democrats and it goes like this:
Oh, by the way, go negative, early and often.
But going negative is bad, isn't it? Nah. Democrats only say it is, and they that say so that Republicans won't do it. It tends to work. When Republicans point out Democratic failures in leadership, the mainstream media wring their collective hands and lament about the sad state of politics these days. Why, they wonder, can't candidates talk about the issues that matter to the American people? Haven't we talked about Benghazi enough?
Candy Crowley sure thought so back in 2012 when she dove out onto the Obama/Romney presidential debate stage to cut of any discussion about Benghazi when Romney was about to deliver a haymaker.
On the other hand, when Harry Reid accused Mitt Romney of not paying any income tax, that was just Harry talking about the issues. In support, the media jumped in to complain that Romney hadn't turned over his income tax returns for the last 50 years. Investigative reporters pondered, what is Romney hiding?
At any rate, the point of Carville's article was to say that as bad as things look for Democrats, it's worse for Republicans who are viewed negatively by a majority of Americans.
According to the Pollster average, two-thirds now disapprove of the Republican Party. We are not talking about Congress or even the Republicans in Congress. The party itself, the Republican Party, has a net -40 approval rating. With just a quarter of the country approving of the GOP, that means not even all of the party’s own members are giving it a positive rating.
There's a reason for that negative view, and it's not because of negative campaigning by Republicans. Democrats and the media have been waging a relentless and successful campaign to smear the Republican brand. It's been going on at least since Barry Goldwater ran for president in 1964, and it really heated up when Newt Gingrich orchestrated a Republican takeover in the House of Representatives in 1994.
Here's a clue, Republicans. Your approval rating is not going to go down if you engage in what the media calls negative campaigning. It's going to go down because Democrats and their friends in the media are going to be waging negative campaigns against you.
Wake up and smell the coffee. Your campaign issue is the Democratic party. Look what they've done to the country.
February 05, 2014
Our Casual Liar In Chief
Without batting an eye. When asked by Bill O'Reilly in his Super Bowl interview about why he opposed school vouchers, the president just casually lied the way he always does.
Asked by Mr. O'Reilly why he opposed school vouchers that "level the playing field" and "give poor people a chance to go to better schools," the president replied, "Actually, every study that's been done on school vouchers, Bill, says that it has very limited impact if any."
Mr. Obama said that the means-tested voucher programs in Milwaukee and Washington, D.C, "didn't actually make that much of a difference," and added, "As a general proposition, vouchers have not significantly improved the performance of kids that are in these poorest communities."
In fact, study after study using gold-standard random-assignment methodology has shown that vouchers not only improve student outcomes but have the biggest impact on low-income minorities. Here's a sampling:
The article by Jason L. Riley went on to list six different studies in which students who participated in the voucher programs showed significant gains over control group students. And the last of the six studies was one released by the Obama administration.
And the Obama administration itself released a report on the D.C. voucher program in 2010. "The students offered vouchers graduated from high school at a rate 12 percentage points higher (82 percent) than students in the control group (70 percent), an impact that was statistically significant at the highest level," according to a summary. "Students in three of six subgroups tested showed significant reading gains because of the voucher offer after four or more years."
It's about the money. Obama's problem with voucher programs is the threat they pose to public education labor unions. The unions are important to Obama because they funnel money to the Democratic party. The income stream is what matters to Obama.
What benefits Obama is what qualifies as truth, to the point where his dishonesty is ordinary, routine, just his usual practice.
February 04, 2014
Advice That Obama Would Never Take
Fay Vincent, former Commissioner of Major League Baseball, offers advice in the Wall Street Journal to new executives. Let me just pick a few of Mr. Vincent's ten tips that Barack Obama might have done well to heed.
5. The wisecrack you believe is witty often is not. Your sense of humor is easily misread as patronizing and clumsy...
I wouldn't call it a misreading of Obama's humor to say he's patronizing and clumsy. Sometimes he's downright offensive, never passing up an opportunity to impugn the motives of those who disagree with him.
7. Never complain; never explain. No one listens. Take the blame if something goes wrong. Do not blame mistakes on prior administrations, the weather, bad luck or your competitors. But don't appear defensive...
Barack Obama has never been at fault for anything, ever. Five years into the disaster that has been the Obama presidency, he and his crony Democrats are still trying to blame George Bush for all of their own mistakes and their own misguided and corrupt policies.
10. It's a cliché, but true: Never do or say anything that you would be unhappy to see written about on a newspaper front page. In dealing with the media, avoid answering hypothetical questions, remember that the microphone is never really off, and never agree to speak "off the record." The only worthwhile public response to a crisis is honesty.
The concept of honesty in a crisis situation is foreign to Barack Obama, because there is only thing that qualifies as a crisis in the Obama administration. That would be anything that threatens the Obama image. All else pales to insignificance.
Was the security situation in Benghazi a crisis? It was for Ambassador Christopher Stevens, but not to Barack Obama. Not nearly as important as maintaining the image of Obama as the scourge of al Qaeda. Al Qaeda was decimated and on the run, according Obama's chosen narrative. The Ambassador feared for his life, but his many requests for additional security were all denied. And then he and three other Americans were murdered in a terrorist attack.
But did their deaths amount to a crisis that required an honest accounting to the America people? Here again the crisis to Obama was the threat to the Obama image. So rather than the truth, we got a song and dance from Susan Rice, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton about how an obscure YouTube video caused outrage and ignited a spontaneous protest, and that was to blame for four dead in Benghazi.
Fay Vincent offers advice worth reading, but it's advice intended for leaders. We have none at the top of this Democratic administration. There are only liars, parasites, and con artists.
February 03, 2014
Deserves The Presumption of Innocence?
I suppose Nicholas Kristof deserves some credit for publishing Dylan Farrow's Story. On the other hand, there's little doubt that hers is the kind story that sells papers. Ms. Farrow claims that she was sexually abused by Woody Allen when she was seven years old. Was it so very brave for Kristof to air those accusations? Woody Allen is, after all, a darling of the left.
So in his original article, quoted here, Kristof established an even-handed agnosticism towards the issue writing:
"It’s important to note that Woody Allen was never prosecuted in this case and has consistently denied wrongdoing; he deserves the presumption of innocence."
Yes, Allen deserves that we presume his innocence. But then Kristof revised his original disclaimer, which now reads:
"Allen’s defenders correctly note that he denies the allegations, has never been convicted and should be presumed innocent."
Maybe "deserves" was too strong a word. Still, Kristof maintained that Allen should get some benefit of the doubt. Well, sure. It's not as if Allen's a Catholic priest. Or a Republican.
January 31, 2014
Wendy Davis -- Standing for Texas Women?
Lefty feminists have their latest heroine in Wendy Davis, who made a name for herself by filibustering Texas abortion legislation. In her words,
So while the “people’s filibuster” will go down in history for putting a stop (if only temporarily) to a misguided bill, the filibuster was more than organized opposition or even endurance — it was an expression of mainstream Texans standing up against partisan power-mongers who no longer act in Texas’ best interest or even tell Texans the truth. These partisans have depicted their bill as an effort to improve the quality of care available to women in local clinics. However, the filibuster exposed their real intent — to close clinics all over the state of Texas and deny health-care services to thousands of Texas women. And now Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst have rammed these new restrictions through the state legislature in a special session, without concern for health care or constitutionality.
In reality the Texas legislation put a limit on late term abortions, and that is something which is quite unacceptable to lefty fems.
Wendy Davis, the Texas state senator running for governor, became a liberal superhero last June when she filibustered a bill to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks.
Here is the reality of it in more accurate terms, as reported by Charles Krauthammer.
And the issue, as most succinctly defined by the late liberal Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, is infanticide. Describing one form of late-term abortion known as partial-birth, Moynihan said: “I had once remarked that the procedure was too close to infanticide. And now we have testimony that it is not just too close to infanticide, it is infanticide.” How else to describe crushing the infant’s skull in mid-delivery before the head leaves the birth canal?
Quite the little heroine, Ms. Davis. As Mr. Krauthammer advises, if Republicans are going to campaign on gender issues this year, this is the one.
Talk policy — specifically, the issue that brought Davis to national prominence.
What was her 11-hour filibuster about? Blocking a state law whose major feature was outlawing abortions beyond 20 weeks. Make that the battlefield. Make Davis explain why she chose not just to support late-term abortion but to make it her great cause.
It should matter that half of those babies at risk would grow up to be women. What about them?
January 30, 2014
Open Letter to Senator Kelly Ayotte
Dear Senator Ayotte,
'The pollsters at Gallup wrote last week that Mr. "Obama is on course to have the most politically polarized approval ratings of any president." Segments of the U.S. population see themselves not just in disagreement with the Obama administration, but as the target of its policies.
This includes not only the famous 1%, but also the upper-middle class, Southern states, charter schools, politically active conservatives, private businesses, the Catholic church, electric utilities, doctors driven out of ObamaCare's health networks and those famous partisans, the Little Sisters of the Poor.All have been vilified, investigated, audited or sued by the president himself, Eric Holder's Justice Department, the National Labor Relations Board, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and, not least, the Internal Revenue Service. Last year's most remarkable polling number from Gallup said in December that 72% of Americans regard big government as the greatest threat to the U.S. They got the message.'
January 21, 2014
The Myth of the Deserving Rich
Did you know that there was one? A "myth of the deserving rich," I mean. Neither did I. But according to the NYT's Paul Krugman, there is one and it's a topic of such acute importance that he asks,
'So how can the myth of the deserving rich be sustained? Mainly through a strategy of distortion by dilution. You almost never see apologists for inequality willing to talk about the 1 percent, let alone the really big winners. Instead, they talk about the top 20 percent, or at best the top 5 percent.'
In case you're wondering, inequality is topping the list for campaign topics in this year's midterm elections. If you're a partisan like Krugman, this is the only viable avenue for rescuing Democratic fortunes in the face the ObamaCare disaster. ObamaCare hasn't gotten any more popular than it was when it passed four years ago. In all likelihood it's going to get even more unpopular as the year wears on. So what's a progressive to do?
If you're Obama you'll continue to do what you'e been doing right along. He attacks his opponents, calling them racist, greedy, dishonest, or all of those things. Racism, greed, and dishonesty is so rampant, according to Obama, that it must be fought using the powers of federal government. Like when he sicced the IRS on Tea Party groups. Look for it to be the new perk for Democratic presidents. He started out using the Federal Election Commission to outlaw political campaigning by the other side. But when the courts found that to be unconstitutional, Obama transferred his political hacks over to the IRS who continued the practice from there.
And on the public relations front he talks about inequality. It's perfect. Inequality is really the natural state of things. Let's face it. Not everybody can play Major League Baseball. But talking about inequality likes it's some kind of conservative plot to keep the disadvantaged from taking their money? That's caught on as a winning campaign issue.
So we get Paul Krugman talking about the deserving and undeserving.
'I’ve noted before that conservatives seem fixated on the notion that poverty is basically the result of character problems among the poor.'
He moralizes over pretend conservative moralizing. And who are those conservatives who moralize about the poor. Why, they're the undeserving rich. In the face of rising inequality these lowlife undeserving rich engage in 'a determined campaign of statistical obfuscation.' Ah, but what about his own obfuscation?
'For an example of de facto falsification, one need look no further than a recent column by Bret Stephens of The Wall Street Journal, which first accused President Obama (wrongly) of making a factual error, then proceeded to assert that rising inequality was no big deal, because everyone has been making big gains. Why, incomes for the bottom fifth of the U.S. population have risen 186 percent since 1979!
If this sounds wrong to you, it should: that’s a nominal number, not corrected for inflation. You can find the inflation-corrected number in the same Census Bureau table; it shows incomes for the bottom fifth actually falling. Oh, and for the record, at the time of writing this elementary error had not been corrected on The Journal’s website.'
Think about it. There is a bottom fifth of the U.S. population. As unjust as this may sound, eighty percent of the U.S. population will be richer than they are. Next year there will be a bottom fifth of the U.S. population, and a hundred years from now there is still going to be a bottom fifth.
But the question never addressed is, who's going to be in it? Answer: Just about everybody. Almost all of us start at the bottom, and that's the way it should be. Now, those of us who weren't delusional when we started out, didn't expect to pull down CEO-sized salaries when we were selling toys in a department store, washing dishes in a restaurant, or picking tobacco. We got minimum wage. On tobacco it was less than minimum wage. But it was not a career and we knew it. We were just starting out.
Which brings me to this startling fact. There are still such things as entry level jobs. Usually, they're minimum wage jobs and historically they've been part of the education of American workers. With any kind of luck there will be entry level jobs 50 years from now, though if progressives like Obama can hold onto power there will be much fewer of them than there are workers who want them. Why is that?
It's not fair unless Democrats get to decide who is entitled to be rich. That's why. This is something way too important to be left to the uncaring mechanics of the marketplace. The Democratic approach is to make sure people are not exploited in low wage jobs. It's simple, really.
Think Keystone Pipeline! 20,000 jobs right there for the taking. Just approve the project and let construction and the hiring begin. Construction pays better than minimum wage, but the infusion of construction cash into local economies would spin off the entry level jobs as the demand for the necessities of life explodes. Those entry level jobs are the one the Democrats strive to prevent, and by preventing their formation they save thousands from exploitation. By stopping Keystone Democrats save countless people from the ravages of minimum wage jobs -- or any other jobs for that matter.
For Democrats, an important function of government is saving the disadvantaged from the disadvantages of a job. They've been extraordinarily successful at it, too. Come to think of it, with immigration reform they're saving our nation's youth -- particularly African American and Hispanic -- from the indignities of low paying jobs. Undocumented workers from Mexico, Central, and South America can have them.
But we can't expect all of their compassion and hard work for nothing. Our deserving Democrats hope and expect to be returned to power where they can do more such good works, and of course be paid handsomely. They can't be expected to fight greed for nothing.