Friday, December 23, 2011

Of Cavemen and Flying Dogs

Republican Über-Strategist John Boehner has once again drawn a line in the quicksand and handed President Obama and Democrats another political victory yesterday in the latest round of Washington's budgetary incompetence and misfeasance, this time over the extension of the tax holiday on payroll deductions for Social Security payments.

In Boehner's 11 months as Speaker, he has unfortunately dissipated much of the political advantage he should have been able to use after the 2010 elections to keep the President and congressional Democrats off balance. Instead, he seems to have a deep reluctance or even inability to engage the Democrats in any kind of serious political fight, out of some McCain-esque fear that Republicans playing hardball like Democrats routinely do will somehow make the GOP look like big meanies to the electorate.

With this latest cave-in to Democrats I think he's squandered whatever goodwill he had left among conservatives and Tea Partiers.  Today on the Hugh Hewitt radio show, Hugh opened the phone lines and solicited answers to a simple question: should Boehner be kept on as Speaker, or should he go?  The overwhelming sentiment was he should go.  I have trouble imagining that the Republicans in the House will replace him before the end of this Congress in 2012, but I think this latest cave-in by Boehner giving the Democrats another political victory has seriously harmed his chances for being selected as Speaker again in 2013.

Meanwhile, there has risen up a bit of confusion about the First Dog Bo and his adventures in the space-time continuum.  There are reports that Bo was seen with the vacationing First Lady and daughters in Hawaii, yet today Bo turned up shopping with the President at a D.C. area pet emporium.  Are there two Bo's?  Did the White House really have Bo flown back from Hawaii to appear in a photo op in D.C.?  If so, how much did all that cost?

I think the White House logs should be checked to discover what Bo's actual movements have been.  Who knows what we might find.  Maybe Bo has been taking surreptitious trips between John Corzine's office and Macau, taking as luggage little black bags filled with a billion dollars in cash.  It wouldn't be much stranger than other things we've seen from this White House in the last three years.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Future Is Here, And It Doesn't Work

I wrote this story last summer as an entry for the Powerline Prize.  It's been gathering digital dust on my hard drive since then, so I've decided to post it here and let it loose on the world.

*     *     *

(This interview was conducted some 15 years before former President Obama's recent death. At the time of the interview he had rarely been seen or heard in public for nearly ten years. After the interview I decided to withhold publication during the President's lifetime. I hope the reason will be clear.)

It was late on a summer evening when my wife came to me and said there was a man who claimed to be from the Secret Service at our door, wishing to speak to me. We invited him inside once we decided he was who he said he was, and served coffee to him while he told us what he wanted from me. The conversation was short. Former President Obama was nearly finished writing a book about his political career, and had decided he would like to do a short interview with me, to be released shortly before the book would be published. He was familiar with my work and admired my interviewing style, which he described as “uninstrusive and to the point.”

We agreed on a date a week forward. I was told I could take notes and bring a recorder, though no video would be allowed. Anything else I needed would be supplied to me. I would, of course, be searched before meeting the President.

About six o'clock p.m. on the scheduled day a dark, official looking car pulled into my driveway. Two agents sat in front, with me alone in the back. “We'll be going to the airport first, then flying to where the President is staying,” said the apparent agent-in-charge. “We expect you won't mention in your article exactly where you met the President.” I nodded and tried to relax as much as the circumstances allowed.

After about an hour of flying in a small jet we touched down at an air field on the outskirts of a small city. We drove off in another dark official car along country roads until we came to the grounds of an estate, at the center of which was a large colonial building made of brick, covered in faded white paint. On entering the building one of the agents waved a detection wand over me while another patted me down physically, and then the agent in charge said to me, “Come this way. The President is ready to meet you.”

Down a hall and through a large oak door I went, and there stood the President before his desk, hand outstretched.

“I'm very pleased to meet you, Mr. Jackson. It's good of you to come here tonight.” I shook his hand and expressed my gratitude that he had selected me to be his interviewer, and then I sat down in a chair by the desk as he indicated. The agent-in-charge set a tray with coffee, cream and sugar on a side table next to me.

I hadn't seen a photo of the President since he had essentially disappeared from public view years earlier.  He looked well and fit for a man of his age, especially a man who had taken on the difficult job of being president. His hair hadn't gone completely white but it wouldn't be long before it did. His eyes and face were clear, but I thought he had the face of a man who'd experienced more sadness than he might have expected.

The President sat down behind his desk and asked me a few questions about my career, my family, and whatever it was I was working on at that point, while I set up my recorder and made a few notes. Once I was comfortable and ready, he put his hands behind his head and leaned back.

“Okay, let's do it.”

What follows is everything he said to me that night.

JACKSON: Mr. President, thank you very much for giving this interview, your first interview after many years, our readers will recall. It's a great honor for me.

PRESIDENT: You're welcome. I've thought long and hard about how to do this. I've admired your work for a long time. I think we'll do fine here.

JACKSON: Mr. President, could we start by finding out why it is you've decided this is the moment to return to the public conversation?

PRESIDENT: Certainly. I've had a long time to think about my career and my life. I have much in common with a good many politicians in that there is a consensus of opinion about my accomplishments, my failures, and the impact I've had. Over time there comes to be a general agreement about what was good about a politician and what was bad. There are always disagreements about some issues, but mainly it's either thumbs up or thumbs down as far as history is concerned. And I think that the judgement of history is usually sound over time, and that people do come to understand the careers of politicians clearly.

So there is a general agreement about what my Presidency has meant. The difference between myself and most other politicians, however, is that the general agreement is wrong.

JACKSON: That's not exactly what I was expecting to hear.

PRESIDENT: No, I know it's not. And that's why I have you here. The book I'm writing is going to stir things up in unexpected ways, and I think this interview will help prepare folks for that.

JACKSON: Really?

PRESIDENT: Yes, and I'll tell you why. I'm viewed as having had certain goals that drove me to into politics, to eventually run for President, and then pursue the policies my administration adopted. Everything about my education and career points to that conclusion. What will be shocking to people is that in all that time I never revealed to anyone but Michelle what my true intentions were from the beginning.

JACKSON: Your true intentions?

PRESIDENT: Yes.

Let me ask you, how would you characterize my political leanings, or better, how would most people describe my politics?

JACKSON: Well, they would say you were a strong liberal in the tradition of Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. That is how I would describe you, certainly.

PRESIDENT: Of course, and based on what people know about me, you would be correct. But the truth is that is not how I view myself, quite the reverse.

JACKSON: I don't quite know how to react to that.

PRESIDENT: I know. From what you know now, it doesn't make much sense. So let me start from the beginning.

Anyone who is familiar with my life story will tell you that I was raised in an environment that was very liberal politically. Actually, I was raised by socialists and Marxists. During my career anyone describing me as a socialist found himself attacked by people on my side of the aisle, but it is simply a fact. My father was a Marxist, my mother was a radical in the SDS vein, and most of the adults and teachers around me at least had strong leftist sympathies.

This was the '60s and '70s, after all, when that stuff was fairly common, like it was back in the Depression in the '30s. Everything for these folks was class struggle, capitalist conspiracies, racism, exploitation, the military-industrial complex, international warfare, and so forth. I learned it backwards and forwards, the polemics and dialectic, until it was in my bones. Over time people in that circle started looking on me like basketball folks look on a kid who can run rings around everybody else on the court.  I was somebody to watch. I was going places where they couldn't ever go, because they would never be as agile socially and rhetorically as I was. I suppose I was kind of a punk as far as that went, but I knew how to tone it down. Those people were looking for big things from me.

You follow?

JACKSON: Yes, I think so.

PRESIDENT: Okay, good.

So while I was sopping up everything they had to teach me, there were some things that started to bug me. Somewhere along the way I started to notice that a lot of these leftist folks who were teaching me really weren't all that nice as people. I mean, I'd visit friends of mine at home, for dinner or the weekend, whatever, and some of my friends came from seriously religious families, or maybe they were just what you'd call hard-working types, families where people spent their time making a living, raising their kids and having a bit of fun on the side. They didn't worry much about politics. If they did mention it they would say “those politicians are all the same, they're all crooks,” that kind of thing. It wasn't part of their world, really. But a lot of times my friend's mother could cook up a storm and if you were in trouble they'd help you any way they could. I started noticing that a lot of the leftist folks I was around weren't that way. Most of them couldn't cook to save their lives, and they didn't have the kind of easy generosity I'd see in some of those families I would visit.

It's hard to say all of what was going on in my mind. I mean, my old man left me and my mom. That's not exactly unusual, but when you're a kid you think, what the hell is that? What kind of a guy does that to his kid? So I had those kind of feelings gnawing at me too, along with what I was starting to see in the people around me.

So I started looking at the things they were teaching me in a different light. But I didn't let any of those people know what was going on. I knew they wouldn't approve, of course, and I didn't know exactly what it was I was looking for myself.

Now the first place where I split with them was on the Soviet Union. Here you had a country that was the driving force of socialism in the modern world. Its revolution had inspired so many in Europe and America to become socialists or communists, but it just wasn't a very good place if you looked at it clearly. Nobody was free. You couldn't say what you thought, couldn't live where you wanted, couldn't leave the country if you wanted, all the kind of stuff people here took for granted. Most of the left had denounced Stalin after the revelations about him, but they still looked on the Soviet Union as a work in progress, a good idea that had been hijacked by the wrong people. Or they thought America and the western democracies were as bad in what they did.

To me that just didn't make sense. If the only places that have taken up the political system you advocate have turned into tyrannical hellholes, why would you think your political system still makes sense? I finally couldn't swallow it anymore. Still, I didn't say anything. These weren't people who were going to take kindly to finding out their star pupil was turning into a Republican. I really wasn't prepared at the time to take the kind of grief they would have dished out.

JACKSON: How did that make you feel?

PRESIDENT: Not good. Very isolated. That was my late teens, that's a tough time for just about everyone, especially when you have confusion about your place in the world. That's when I started taking drugs. Thankfully that never got to be a big problem for me. Some of my friends weren't so lucky.

But once I got back into studying again, I took a good look at what was going on in the country. This was in the early part of the Reagan presidency. I'd pretty much sailed through late '70s and Carter doing my own things, I didn't pay much attention to the national scene. Suddenly we had the most conservative president since the 1920s winning the election by a landslide. He was despised bitterly by the left, but he was popular with a lot of other folks, and he never did lose their support. I think the anger against him went beyond politics, though. He was like a throwback to the days of black and white movies, when guys worked their whole lives at jobs they hated and you got called a whiner if you complained about it very much. He had suits like something Dagwood Bumstead would wear, and he had a way of making points with a twinkle in his eye that just drove the left absolutely nuts. I didn't know what to make of him at first.

Now there were contraditions in Reagan's record and people are going to be arguing about him for a long time, but what changed me was I came to appreciate the conservative notion that the government is best that governs least. We hadn't heard much of that idea since Calvin Coolidge, and to a lot of people the concept was insane, it was heresy. I spent about six months then learning about conservative ideas, the free market and some of the libertarian guys, though that stuff was harder to find out about back then.  And almost impossible to talk about to people. They just didn't get the idea that you can mean well and still screw everything up totally, the whole unintended consequences thing, you know.

JACKSON: This was happening when you were an undergraduate?

PRESIDENT: Yeah. I was still partying a lot but I made sure to leave time for looking into all this stuff that was puzzling me.

After that I started wondering what the hell I was going to do about it. As far as anyone else knew, I was a budding superstar of socialism. I was a black kid who could talk rings around some of the smartest prep school white kids, a black kid who didn't come off as angry or threatening. Not to make too much of it, but like I told Harry Reid, I had a gift. People liked me, they trusted me, and they'd listen to me. I could convince some people to believe things that they would reject from someone less convincing that I was. That's how I saw myself then, anyway.

At that point I came to a crossroads. What was I going to do? On the one hand, I could become a liberal Democrat politician and see where that took me, all the while believing none of it. Or I could change my stripes and become a conservative, a black conservative at that. Doesn't sound like a problem now so much but back then that was like showing up at a drug party in a cop uniform. I'd be guaranteeing myself a lifetime of rejection and abuse from my own people and lots of liberals, too. Or I could bury my political inclinations and follow a career that might make me rich, and maybe a little happy, too. None of those options were very appealing to me. I had a problem and I didn't know what to do or who to ask about it, so I just clammed up on it and let it ride for a while.

JACKSON: That must have been a very difficult time. I don't know if I can imagine how you must have felt.

PRESIDENT: Yeah, well it was hard but it certainly wasn't the worst time in my life. Like I said, I just let it ride, but in a couple of months I started to get a picture of what it was I wanted to do. And it shocked me once I realized what that was. I woke up in sweats a couple of nights dreaming about it.

What I decided to do was spend my career pretending to believe what I no longer thought was true. I would do it with such determination and skill that my leftist credentials would never be questioned. I would be an absolute hero to the socialist set. That might sound insane, but I decided I had a good reason to do that.

I'd observed that the government in the United States had in the 20th century been getting larger and larger, nipping at the edges of everyone's rights in a thousand different ways and endlessly devouring resources. It made people feel helpless. How do you stop a monster like the federal government? How do you get people to realize what a threat it is to them?

Becoming a conservative and arguing for it one forum at a time looked to me to be a lost cause. I knew it would be an honorable way to spend my life, but I doubted it would have much effect on things in the end. Back then you had the example of Barry Goldwater, one of the first modern conservatives, who was honored in his own circles but considered to be a bit of a nut by many others. Reagan was well liked and he was doing good, helping to bring back a strong economy and fighting the Soviet Union, but I didn't see how he or his followers were going to prevail in the long run. I thought the Republicans would come to be distracted by the perks that they'd get with big government and forget about Reagan. Unfortunately, I think I was mostly right about that.

In the end I decided to become what I'd call a nihilist for liberty. My purpose from that point on was to work to make the government so big and intrusive that the people would finally have to rise up and kill it if they ever wanted to be free again.

JACKSON: I – that has to be the most incredible thing I've heard in my life. And you never told this to anyone?

PRESIDENT: No, I told it to Michelle, remember? We were pretty far into our relationship when I sprung it on her. First she got mad at me, and she wouldn't talk to me for a few days. I didn't push it after that. Sometimes I'd say something dismissive about one of our lefty friends or about something somebody was up to, and she'd look at me at little funny. I suppose she was wondering if that crazy notion was still in my head. But I loved her, you know, really loved her. I figured I could give her a good life even with all that going on in my head. And to tell the truth, it wasn't really all that hard to live that way. It wasn't like being in a commie cell in the old days, where they had to always watch out for spies and traitors. The people in our circle didn't hide what they believed. If you walked like a duck and talked like a duck, they weren't going to question you much if they heard some off notes from you. They really weren't all that bright, frankly.

JACKSON: I hope you won't take offense to this, but I have this nagging feeling you're playing a joke on me, Mr. President. Is all of what you've said here true?

PRESIDENT: Oh yeah, true as could be. No offense taken. I suppose if someone told me a story like this, I'd have trouble believing it too.

So that's what I did my whole career. My silver tongue took me all the way to the presidency, and from there I set in motion an expansion of government like nobody has seen in the United States before or since. I took a bad economic situation and I made it as bad as I could, any way I could think of. I tried to make people feel small and threatened by the federal government, and if anyone objected, I did my best to make them look like fools or nuts. And through it all I heard hardly a peep against it from my own party—when they thought they were winning, they were like pigs in slop. And there were folks on the other side who didn't really mind what I was doing that much, either. A lot of them.

Yeah, what I did when I was President seems crazy, but I had to do it. And I did it mainly for the kids. We had generations of Americans who'd become accustomed to Uncle Sugar taking things over, killing their initiative, their spirit, their resolve. I had to make things so bad that even the kids would catch on to what happened when the country went down the socialist, big government path. And it caused a lot of pain for lots of folks. But I knew that five or ten years of kids coming out of college unable to find decent jobs, kids living at home until they were getting on 30, having no money, not being able to marry and start families--that was something that would teach them how bad it was to let the government get out of hand.

And for now, you and I are the only ones who know it, but guess what? I succeeded. The vast majority of the country thinks I was the worst President who ever sat in the Oval Office. I killed the national economy. State governments collapsed everywhere when they couldn't get any more money from the federal government. Crime went up because there was no money for more prisons or more cops. I went a long way towards destroying the healthcare system, and who knows how many people suffered because of that. Our military forces had to work on a shoestring, and because of that our foreign policy suffered also, making some parts of the world even more dangerous than they were before I was President. Our public schools, our roads, our transit systems, our internal waterways—so many things we had been able to take care of before I was President got worse because of the policies I put in place. But the worst thing that happened to the country because of what I did as President was what it did to people's spirit. I must have caused more depression and hopelessness than a six month winter, and it was probably worse than that, because no one knew when the winter I'd caused was going to end.

But even after all that, people didn't give in. The rise of the Grizzly Alliance and all that's happened in the last 20 years is proof of that. All those Tea Party people who were so reviled started fighting back, and even when they didn't win they kept fighting, and they set an example. It took years but people went back to reading the Constitution and the history of the country, and tried to figure out what it all meant. And they started to learn how to get back their freedom and prosperity. When so many of the Republican politicians refused to join in the fight against what I was doing, things finally came to a head. Sarah Palin put together her Grizzly Alliance out of Tea Party people and lots of other folks who'd finally had enough of what I'd done. They went back and took over the states and struck back against Washington one blow at a time. The folks back in the states finally realized that Washington didn't have any money left, and when you don't have any money, it's awful tough to push anyone around.

So I pushed them into it, and the people finally fought back against me, and things have been getting better ever since. Sometimes it makes me cry thinking about how long it took, and how hard it was to get it all done, with no one knowing what I was up to. And the truth is for me, now, I'm tired of keeping the secret. I've been holding it in since I was in my twenties, and I just can't hold it in anymore.

JACKSON: What does Michelle think about making these revelations public?

PRESIDENT: Michelle...let's just say I lost Michelle a long time ago. Before I became President she was more directed, but all that glamour and shiny stuff—it got her. Got the girls, too, in their own way. I love them all but we don't see each other much, I'm sad to say.

Mr. Jackson, I appreciate you coming here to talk to me. This has been very good for me, very good.

(At that, we stood and shook hands, and I left the building slowly in the company of the agent-in-charge.  It was a very dark, still night, and I could see hundreds of fireflies over the meadows surrounding the estate. As we drove away I lit a cigarette and turned to the agent-in-charge.

“He's not well, is he?” I said.

The agent looked at me for a moment, then turned away. I thought I saw him nod his head slightly, but I can't say for sure.

As of this date, the book President Obama said he was writing hasn't been published, and so far as I'm aware, there is no proof anywhere that such a book even exists.)

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Quick One

This week President Obama held an early Reader's Digest version of a Hanukkah celebration at the White House, lighting up all the candles on a menorah in one day instead of the one candle per day as is done traditionally.  Since I'm not Jewish myself I don't take any offense to this, and I doubt many Jewish people will either.  The apparent reason for the early celebration is that the President intends to be away from the White House on his own Christmas holiday during the latter part of December.  Fair enough.

Still, I can see an opportunity for the President and the nation in this sort of speeded up symbolic observance.  His holiday in Hawaii is scheduled to last 17 days; when his holiday begins, he will have 400 days remaining in his term. Four hundred divided by 17 is 23.3.  Let's say the President declares that each day of his vacation will also count for 23.3 more days of his administration. When his holiday is over, by his own declaration his term will also be over, and he can resign on January 4, 2012, having fulfilled his term in office.

This would save us all the trouble of what probably will be a bitter, angry, divisive reelection campaign from the President, and spare himself what looks likely to be a humiliating defeat -- the sort of thing that tends to drive Democratic presidential candidates off the deep end (e.g., Al Gore, Jimmy Carter).

How about it, Mr. President?  Do it for the kipper?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Unmanned Presidency

President Obama's recent decision to delay making a decision about whether or not to allow construction of an oil pipeline from Canada to Louisiana is, I think, a good indication of what we can expect to see from the President between now and election day. The delay has been hailed by environmental groups, while also being put forth as evidence by some political analysts that the administration is fearful of losing support even from such hardcore elements of the Democratic party base as environmental activists.

This shows a political efficiency I can't say I've noticed before in this White House -- in other words, if your record in office is so bad that it can only bring disaster to run on it, why bother adding to it?  Just freeze as much as possible in place and then get on with the lying, distortion and vicious attacks against the opposition that is your only possible road to victory.  That the murky set of charges of sexual misconduct against Herman Cain are all somehow coming to smell of Chicago (as discussed by liberal hate object and sometime twit Ann Coulter) may be evidence that the White House's campaign attack machine is well in place and conducting preliminary operations.

The White House has announced that the President's coming trip to Asia is intended to assure Asian countries (aside from China) that the United States will remain an economic and military power broker in Asia, and a counterweight to China's growing prominence.  Sailing east like a Commodore Perry without cannons, Obama somehow thinks he can convince Asian leaders that an America with a weak, overregulated, indebted economy is going to protect them from the ambitions of their ruthless neighbor with the exploding economy.  Similarly, Obama has announced his intention of imposing more sanctions against Iran for their continuing attempts at developing nuclear weapons, a ringing endorsement from the President of an approach that has been an utter failure, at a time when an attack by Israel against Iran looks more and more inevitable, and sooner than later.  Is there any point to all this beyond letting Obama prance about as though he is some sort of foreign policy powerhouse, when it is clear whatever influence he may have had has by now evaporated?

With the distractions of the Occupy movement and the Herman Cain situation, we haven't heard much about the "American Jobs Act" or much of anything else that Obama is up to, save for his Olympian descent to save us all from the 15 cent Christmas tree tax.  I think what we'll be seeing from now until election day is a White House occasionally submitting unpassable bills to Congress as a way of providing ammunition for running against "uncompromising" Republicans, and treading water as much as possible in foreign policy, all the while escalating the campaign of catapulting political manure bags at whatever presidential hopefuls seem to them to be deserving, strategic targets.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Toto, I Have A Feeling We're Not In Woodstock Anymore

I'm not much inclined towards making statements like "it made my blood boil," but watching this video of Occupy DC thugs raising hell this weekend outside the Washington, D.C. Convention Center just about had me there.

The mob logic on display in the video is stunning--from the pig shouting "Ho! Ho! Ho!" at a mother defending her children and the crowd knocking a 78-year old woman to the ground, to the outrage of demonstrators on the street that someone in a car surrounded by marauding freaks might resort to running someone over to get to safety, the absolute lack of common decency shown by any of these "demonstrators" was sickening to me.

I don't know if the President is going to take any time out of whatever the hell it is he does after 4 o'clock in the afternoon to give a look at what his class warfare campaign is producing, and I don't really care.  As far as I'm concerned, every day that we hear no condemnation whatsoever from the White House of the crime, intolerance and deliberate violence that has been happening in the "Occupy" movement is more proof to me that this unrest is exactly what Obama wants.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The President's Mob vs. The Cold Winds of Autumn

With the "Occupy" protests now in their second month and already taking on Lord Of The Flies and Animal Farm aspects, questions about what exactly is being protested and why are still eliciting wide disagreement throughout the nation. Whether or not we ever figure that out, the Occupiers have suggested solutions to what they're protesting that range from abolishing money to running the Jews out of the country, the latter being a lovely addition to so many of the mass movements we've lately seen worldwide.

The days of the Occupation appear to be numbered, as residents and officials in occupied cities grow tired of the antics, noise, crime and sheer filth being generated by the new Utopians.  That and the simple fact that living outside is not so much fun in the cold rain and snow leads me to guess that most of the current phase of this movement will have passed by Thanksgiving.  Then again, who knows, maybe the Aleutian branch of Occupy will come to the rescue with helpful hints on outdoor living.

Meanwhile, the White House and Democratic establishment have been making noises of support for the movement while still keeping enough distance to make a clean break if things go wrong, like someone attending to a drunken friend who's likely going to puke all over himself.  The President and some of his fellow travelers have made a point that they understand the frustrations of the Occupied group, and have been eager in attempting to link the motives of the Occupied with those of Tea Party types, a notion I haven't heard echoed by anyone who could seriously be described as part of the Tea Party movement (Newt Gingrich and Eric Cantor don't count, if you're wondering).

It seems to me that since their massive defeat in the elections of 2010, Democrats and the left in general have been in search of something that would allow them to revive their failing political prospects.  From the attempt to silence conservatives with cries for "civility" after the Tucson massacre, to the failed mob action in Madison, to the simply ridiculous "Coffee Party," nothing has worked.  Finally, for whatever reasons, "Occupy Wall Street" has caught fire, in spite of all its contradictions and frequent ugliness.  The Democratic establishment has of course been eager to exploit this sudden appearance of political manna, while also recognizing the danger in being too closely associated with a phenomenon that has attracted more than its share of cranks and nutballs.  Revelations about direct or indirect funding from Soros-linked organizations, the involvement in unions in organizing some events, and evidence that The Organizations Formerly Known As ACORN have been involved in drumming up support and paying demonstrators show that even if the President and official Democrats aren't directly involved in planning and funding this movement, groups that have provided the President support during and since the election sure as hell are.  It seems to me that if the President had publicly expressed displeasure with what was happening the Occupy movement would have wilted away within a matter of weeks, if not days.

So assuming I'm correct that the coming of winter and eventual eviction by local governments will end this phase of the Occupy movement, where will it go?  Does it have a future?

My feeling is that things will slow down for winter and the holidays, but that once spring has arrived there will be attempts to get this all going again, especially if there is a clear winner emerging in the Republican presidential field, which would supply a very convenient and specific target for invective.  I think that if Obama's approach to the economy continues to fail, he's going to need any help he can get, including mobs on the street, with all the opportunities for distraction and polarization they provide.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mic Check! MIC CHECK!

The seemingly chaotic protest movement begun as "Occupy Wall Street" and now coming to a public park near you has met with a variety of reactions, mostly depending on what one's political and economic views are, coherent or not.  The conduct and appearance of the protestors have been a source of amusement for those who find the "demands" of the protestors to be ridiculous at best, while for many who are sympathetic, this is one of those "someone finally said it" moments.

Democrats and liberals in general have been suffering a large amount of distress over the rise of the Tea Party.  Pelosi and others at first tried to kill it by denying it existed, but once that failed the general approach to bringing the movement down has been slander and libel, mixed in with halting attempts to come up with an analogous movement from the left.  That the left feels a need for their very own special movement during the term of the most left-leaning President ever probably doesn't speak well for Obama's prospects for re-election.  In any case, with "Occupy Wall Street" leftists seem to have at last found a forum that allows them to unpack their grab bag of anger and discontent for all the world to see.

Though I think "grab bag" might be an inadequate description for the breadth of expression heard and seen from the protestors so far.  Just about every leftist and anarchist complaint since the Haymarket riot has been trotted out, seasoned with dashes of obscenity, defecation and creepiness that have come to characterize leftist demonstrations since the 1990s.  The sheer incoherence of it all has been both an attraction and a problem for the protests.  The conceit that OWS is a place where the "99 percent" can finally be heard has given rise to all sorts of complaints and demands, many of which are simply ridiculous, if not pathetic.  I have a Master's degree in (insert useless field here) and I can't find a job!  End capitalism! or Repeal all debt and mortgages!  Free college for everyone!  No property allowed! are arguments that just aren't going to gain much traction outside the coffeehouse scene, much less in the voting booths.  The lack of focus displayed in these protests so far makes me doubt we'll get from this crowd anything like the effectiveness the Tea Party movement has displayed, but that remains to be seen.

The reaction of the liberal political establishment has been a mixture of hopefulness and caution.  Democratic politicians up to and including the President have expressed their sympathies for, at the very least, the "frustrations" the protestors are expressing.  The extent to which these protests are in fact part of any liberal political strategy is something that is being hashed out in the background, with allegations being made that the originators of Occupy Wall Street somehow received funding from George Soros or that the protests are part of a broader labor union strategy for the coming election year.  That liberal politicians are hopeful this protest movement will help them in some way is clear, but I think they have been very cautious in their embrace, fearful of being closely linked with the protests if the more far-out elements begin to dominate and the whole thing gets too messy.  Mayor Bloomberg's soft touch in regard to the protesters clearly shows a fear of antagonizing the OWS crowd, but the news today that the city intends to clear the park this weekend for cleaning means to me that he's getting heat from his more natural constituency, meaning Manhattanites and ordinary New Yorkers, some of whom no doubt are invested in Wall Street.

I think the big questions at this moment about the future of these protests are: Will they survive the winter?  And will they become violent?  I think that if we do see serious violence coming out of this movement, Democrats will someday look back and wish all this had never happened.

Monday, October 3, 2011

This Was The Moment

The Age of Calamity that 52.9% of American voters signed us up for in 2008 continues to get worse, with no safely predictable end in sight.

Our President has spent the past few weeks fundraising and barnstorming for public support for his "American Jobs Act" and gigantic tax raise, slipping into whatever persona he seems to feel suits the moment.  First we had Obama, Greatest Salesman Ever doing his best to get his foot in the door, giving us the slogan I suppose he hoped millions would take up yelling from the rooftops, "Pass This Bill!"  Not having any luck with that, he then tried to shore up his political base, adopting his Obama, Greatest Badass Black Preacher Ever personality before the Congressional Black Caucus, complete with a fake southern drawl and an angry admonition to his audience to put on their "marching boots" and stop all that whining, again to a less than enthusiastic welcome from the likes of Maxine Waters, whose response was basically You talking to me, fool?

While the President has been throwing heart and soul into getting his legislation passed, the economy has continued tanking in nearly all aspects, nationally and worldwide.  The 300 point stock market drop has become an almost commonplace event.  The Federal Reserve is clearly steering through uncharted waters and has just about dissipated any faith among financial markets that it will be able to lead a solution to the mess.  Prospects for any improvement in employment numbers in the U.S. are nowhere on the horizon, and the housing markets are continuing to stagnate, or worse.  The European Union is attempting to stave off yet more disaster from the bankruptcy of a growing number of its members, and for their efforts its leaders received a stern lecture on financial management from our own President Thrifty, which went down about as well as a nice drink of motor oil. There are even growing cries from economic soothsayers of signs of impending collapse in China, which can't possibly be good, unless you happen to be a fan of food riots and other such chaos.

Elsewhere, the administration that is doing its best to kill our domestic oil and coal industries has just decided to give another billion dollars to "green energy" firms, merely days after the corporate officers of the failed solar panel firm Solyndra pleaded the fifth before a Congressional committee.  That Solyndra seems to have become a criminal enterprise somewhere along the way hasn't kept the administration from pouring more taxpayer money down the green rathole, but what the hell, it's only government money, there's always more where that came from.  Just ask Warren Buffet.

Yes, there's more...

The Fast & Furious fiasco is continuing on its logical path, with more guns showing up in both on American and Mexican soil, and more deaths in which the ATF-sponsored weapons were involved coming to light. Whether or not the investigative trail in this scandal will finally point to the upper reaches of the White House is an open question.  I wonder myself if there will be enough time to get to the bottom of the barrel in this affair before the voters boot Obama and his crew out of office.  How much effect it will have on the election itself is another important question, I think.

Is there more?  Well, why not?

We've seen evidence during the Obama administration that the President and many of his supporters have a bit of a problem with all the trouble the democratic process is causing them in their quest to bring us kicking and screaming to that beautiful place they know is best for us.  We have the President's remark that it would be easier to be president of China; his confession before La Raza that he's tempted to "do things on my own;" his use of "Czars" as a way of avoiding Congressional oversight.  In just the past two weeks or so we've seen a Democrat governor propose the suspension of Congressional elections, and Obama's former budget director publish an article in the New Republic calling for "less democracy" and a diminution of Congressional influence in governing the country.  This paired with the increased threats of violence from unions and the left is causing some to consider what would normally be dismissed as paranoid-type thoughts:  is it possible that the Administration wants there to be a crisis of civil disorder, which would give the President an opportunity to declare an emergency and stop next year's election?

I can't say that I've ever seriously entertained such an idea about any president in my lifetime, and I doubt that there's any such thing in the cards at this point, but that's because I have trouble believing even this president would be willing to commit such a crime against his own people.  But who knows?  The President cut his teeth on Alinskyite, "ends justify the means" political morality, and I think it's an open question as to how far his administration and the left are willing to go before they admit defeat and give up power.

Of course, the President could put all these fears to rest anytime, if he would just resign...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Meth

We finally have an explanation about what they've been smoking in the White House that's helped them dream up their (as yet nonexistent) "American Jobs Act" and $1.5 trillion tax hike, part of which is inspired by Warren Buffet's knuckleheaded complaint about his secretary's tax rate.

Said the President about the "Buffet rule":  This is not class warfare--it's meth.

Well, at least they've finally admitted it.  This is a big step for the administration, and I think we can all lend our prayers and support to everyone in the White House as they struggle to overcome this terrible addiction.

Update:  I'm told that I misquoted the President.  He didn't say "meth," he said "math."  Given what we've seen of Obama's spending habits, I'm wondering if that's an improvement.

Friday, September 16, 2011

All You Need Is Love

"I love you Barack!" one voice cried out in the crowd.

"I love you back," the president replied. "But if you love me, you've got to help me pass this bill!"  (CBS News)

Barack Obama's campaign to degrade the presidency while also annoying the hell out of more Americans every day continues unabated.  The looney tunes president who's been running around the country since his trip to Martha's Vineyard has me wondering what the hell he's been huffing that makes him so happy while so much is going wrong.

Almost no one who hasn't actually hugged Debbie Wasserman Schultz believes Obama's latest "American Jobs Act" is in any way a serious attempt to deal with our deteriorating economic situation, and it's been clear from the beginning that this latest "jobs" scheme was never meant to be anything more than a weapon to be used against Republicans in the coming election, once the bill has failed to pass.  The President's speech before the Congress sounded like a pitch from an obnoxious motivational speaker, made weirder by the fact that he was selling a bill that was at that point unseen and in fact unwritten. That the bill turned out to be nothing more than a half-sized version of Stimulus One has helped convince almost no one but the already faithful, and few enough of them.

Speaking of Stimulus One, the easily predicted corruption resulting from throwing billions of dollars around without any serious purpose is beginning to come to light in the growing scandal over bad investments the government made in "green energy" firms, the most glaring example being $535 million poured down a rat hole called Solyndra.  Other similar failures are emerging, showing an administration that rushed out to invest in companies in spite of evidence the prospects for success were poor.  That this sort of approach is in character with the administration's usual lack of common sense doesn't make it any less outrageous, unfortunately.

In addition to the collapse of the administration's economic and fiscal policies, the Fast & Furious gunrunning scandal continues to pick up steam with the discovery of yet more weapons and murders that can be traced to the ATF's bastard program.  I have trouble imagining that this won't eventually take down Eric Holder and wash up onto the gates of the White House, but the administration at this point is stonewalling in the old tradition, and it looks to me like this will all come to head sometime next year, not a good time for a President up for reelection.

And finally in this week we saw the re-emergence of the Stalinist inclinations of Obamaland with the administration establishing its "AttackWatch.com" website, whereby citizens can report attacks and misinformation about the Obama Administration and receive The Truth.  If you're unaware, AttackWatch.com was paired with a Twitter account (#AttackWatch) that has turned into a playground for dissenting citizens leaving generally humorous messages mocking the administration, at a pace that's become hard to keep up with.  It took less than two days for this new propaganda initiative by the administration to get shoved right back in its face, in a spontaneous and uncoordinated way that doesn't bode well for whatever new campaign strategies the White House has yet to dream up.

So here's where we are now, as I see it:  things are going to hell and the President and his people have no clue whatsoever of what to do.  Instead we see our President in endless campaign mode flitting about like he's been hitting the laughing gas, trying to convince us that his way is still the right way, and never mind that giant asteroid hurling towards the planet at 3,000 miles a second...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Staying The Course

President Obama's speech and unwritten "American Jobs Act" have met with little favorable reaction.  His blend of die-hard amateur Keynesianism, finger-pointing and class warfare just doesn't inspire much confidence at this point, even with two or three actual sensible ideas buried within the mess.  The more realistic reaction as I see it is fear of what the President can yet do in his time left in office, and a resolve to hunker down and defeat him and his minions at the first opportunity.  But the President seems to understand this in his own way, as he said in his speech last night:

The next election is 14 months away. And the people who sent us here — the people who hired us to work for them — they don’t have the luxury of waiting 14 months.

No, we don't have the luxury of waiting 14 months, but since we don't live under a Parliamentary system, it's just going to take that long to throw the President and his gang out on their ears.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Insane

I'm listening to Obama giving his "jobs" speech before the Congress.  Boy, he sure is excited. Apparently he's going to end all our economic difficulties by repairing schools and bridges and giving tax credits to business to hire unemployed people and he's going to make changes to Medicare and he's going to reveal some more details about some more details on Monday and he's going to...

It's all the same failed crap he's ever tried, except now he's piling it together in one speech.  Enough.

President Obama, it's time for you to resign.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Strategy


The White House and its allies in the Congress and labor union leadership are in complete panic about Obama's prospects for reelection, if comments from the past few weeks by members of that coalition are any guide.

The big bomb comes from a sputtering Teamsters President James Hoffa at a Labor Day union rally in Detroit, in which he seems to be advocating something more aggressive than get-out-the-vote drives in support of Obama:

We got to keep an eye on the battle that we face: The war on workers. And you see it everywhere, it is the Tea Party. And you know, there is only one way to beat and win that war. The one thing about working people is we like a good fight. And you know what? They've got a war, they got a war with us and there's only going to be one winner. It's going to be the workers of Michigan, and America. We're going to win that war...President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. Let's take these son of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong.

President Obama cheefully appeared on the same stage just a few minutes after this goony rant from Hoffa, and as of this writing the White House has refused to express any disapproval of Hoffa's remarks.  The Teamster Union's history of ties to organized crime of course is what makes all this sound more ominous than normal political tough talk, a history which Democratic apologists will ignore as they insist that Hoffa simply means "vote out" when he says "take these son of bitches out."

Over on the racism beat, some members of the House of Representatives have been tossing red meat to the faithful.  The always reliable Maxine Waters vowed that the "Tea Party can go straight to hell...and I'm going to help it get there" and later threatened to tax banks out of existence, an interesting idea considering the back-burner scandal going on about her own family's ownership of failed bank.  A lesser known Congressman, Indiana's Andre Carson, opined that the Tea Party wants a return of Jim Crow and that “some of them in Congress right now of this tea party movement would love to see you and me ... hanging on a tree.”  Obviously, if someone wants to see you hanging on a tree, you're justified in using any means necessary to stop that from happening...

Also at a Labor Day rally, Vice President Biden gave an unconvincing try at sounding righteously indignant, though he managed to come up with this gem:

This is a different kind of fight. This is a fight for the existence of organized labor. You are the only folks keeping the barbarians at the gate. That’s why they want you so bad.

Again, the villain spoken of here is the Tea Party and any others who object to bankrupting cities, states, and the nation in order to feather the nest of our supposed public servants.  Why he thinks that describing a likely majority of voters as "barbarians" is going to help his cause is beyond me, but when you're Joe Biden, you opens your mouth and you takes your chances.

Pointing out the hypocrisy of this sort of Democrat/leftist martial talk in light of President Obama's call in Tucson for a "new era of civility" is at this point almost too easy, true as it might be.  Maxine Waters and Joe Biden aren't physically going to lead any charge against their adversaries, but I have to wonder how aware these people are that this language is sounding more and more like an incitement of violence, and if this trend isn't actually a part of the White House's increasingly desperate campaign strategy. Given the rioting we've seen in Europe over the collapse of their welfare states, I think there's a justifiable worry here that the American left may turn from mere violent rhetoric to actual violence as it sees its influence and ideals falling like so many statues of Lenin after the tanks have rolled out of town.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Case of United States v. America

The modern struggle of Americans trying to lead their lives in decent fashion without being harassed by ever-expanding government authority has been going on at least since the 1930s and the rise of the New Deal, but since the election of Barack Obama government has been taking the upper hand in a rapid and alarming way.  From the spectacle of crotch-grabbing TSA agents to the passage and implementation of massive, unexamined regulatory laws like Dodd-Frank and Obamacare, it's hard for people to not feel at some point under the thumb of somebody in some government office somewhere. Even a trip to the home toilet can be a reminder that there are few places the government won't gladly stick its nose.

Many of the intrusions are by nature hidden from the view of most people and would probably be difficult for them to understand in any case, such as financial and industrial regulations, yet these can often have the effect of making what people want more difficult to get--like bank loans and mortgages, for instance.  But sometimes the government's buttinski act strides right into every day life, as in the incandescent light bulb ban or our fabulous modern three-flush toilets.

My own version of this has happened in watching the news about the Justice Deparment's raid on the Gibson guitar factories in Memphis and Nashville, in which the government seized something like a million dollar's worth of tone woods, guitars and equipment, under the claim that the Gibson company had violated something called the Lacey Act, which apparently has to do with rules about importation of foreign goods.  In all the fuss over this it has come out that Gibson's longtime competitor, C.F. Martin & Co., imports the same woods for use in their instruments, yet Martin hasn't received any attention from the feds.  Another fact that's come to light is that Gibson's CEO is politically anti-Obama, while Martin's head (C.F. Martin IV) has given money to Democrats, including Obama.  So could it be that the Justice Department is selectively harassing companies and CEO's who have opposed Obama, whether financially or in other ways?  Would the Great Uniter and his troops actually do something like that?

Given the incredible part both Gibson and Martin musical instruments have played in American culture over the past 100+ years, I personally (as a Martin guitar owner) find it very disturbing that the government pig rooting around has thrown up shit not only onto the Gibson company but also onto the Martin company as well.  These aren't big companies like General Electric or Monsanto that have staffs of lawyers following the vagaries of regulatory minutiae, and I'm sure there's plenty the heads of both of these companies would rather be doing than worrying about keeping the government off their backs--like, um, making guitars.

I don't have any developed opinion so far about Rick Perry's career or his presidential campaign, but he started off his campaign by saying he intends to "work to try to make DC as inconsequential in your life as I can."  However Perry's campaign goes, I hope we'll see that idea become a theme of the coming election to defeat Obama.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Joint Session

President Obama's inner Machiavelli seems to be failing him in his latest attempt to roll over the Congress.  His last minute request/demand that he be allowed to address a joint session of Congress the same night as a long-scheduled Republican Presidential debate has worked out badly after Speaker Boehner politely declined the invitation and suggested, uh, how about the next night?  Boehner's reasonableness in this has left the White House little alternative but to back down, and now it is reduced to trying to reassure Americans that the President's rescheduled speech won't get in the way of coverage of the concurrent first game of the NFL season.

What the hell is going on here?  This attempt by the White House to steal attention from the Republican debate is downright weird, and it reminds me of nothing more than the kind of thing a jealous teenager might try in hopes of ruining a party where he or she hasn't been invited.  The idea that a speech about his latest ridiculous plan for reviving the economy needs the backdrop of an assembled Congress is insulting to the Congress, which is a co-equal branch of our government and not just scenery, and to the people of the nation, since that same Congress does represent us, whether we like it or not.

Expecting the White House to display any respect for the nation or its institutions is probably futile at this point.  Fortunately, the White House is meeting little but derision in the media and from the public in this latest episode, even if the derision on the left amounts to being angry that Obama has managed to make himself look childish and the Republicans reasonable and adult.  I think that Obama deserves nothing but praise for continuing to lose support just about everywhere in the electorate, no matter how or why he does it.

Addendum:  Apparently the White House's reaction is even more silly than I thought.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back Door Man

As the Obama's continue their workingman's holiday at Martha's Vineyard, with Michelle doing her best to the raise the bar on budgets for future First Family vacations, I've been wondering exactly what Obama & Co. have in store for us in what seems more and more likely to be his last 16 months in office.

An easy answer would be "more of the same," but since Obama has given us so much in only three years, that seems to me too vague to be useful.  I think we need to focus on the paradox that the President who was once acclaimed as The Smartest Man Who Ever Lived has actually shown himself to be both incredibly stubborn and willfully ignorant.  These are not good characteristics to see for anyone hoping the President might finally wise up and relent from his failed policies.  I think what we are going to get instead is a President doubling down on his agenda, pushing through as many executive orders and regulatory changes as he can, legal or not, while the Congress is still divided and largely unable to block or reverse his actions.

The past few weeks have given us evidence that the Obama Administration has no intention of letting public opinion, legal authority, or Congressional opposition keep it from enacting its policy agenda by executive order.

The administration announced on the 18th that it intends to forge ahead with enacting part of the Dream Act, which has been roundly defeated in Congress, by announcing that it is suspending the deportations of several hundred thousand illegal immigrants and will be granting work permits to those who don't have criminal records.  Aside from this being a clear abdication of its responsibility to enforce the law of the land, this is obviously an attempt by the administration to gain electoral support for Obama from hispanic voters, whether they are citizens or not.  With Obama's support falling rapidly with just about every electoral group you can think of, this is one of the few ways Obama might be able to gain more support, given how ineffective and unpopular so many of his policies have proven to be.

Last month the EPA rolled out its new Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, the main intent of which apparently is to shut down as many coal-fired power plants as possible. Obama early on declared his animus towards the coal industry and actually stated that if his policies about coal went into effect, electricity prices would necessarily go up significantly.  The President has said a lot of things that he hasn't followed up on, but he seems to be sticking to his guns here.

Given the massive unpopularity of the Dream Act and the clear harm he will be doing to his own electoral prospects in coal-mining states (e.g., Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia), I'm leaning towards concluding that the White House has decided that Obama has no chance at all of winning re-election based on his record and accomplishments.  I think that instead they're going to be campaigning on the low road, and hard.  In the meantime they'll be jamming down on enacting their agenda by fiat, on the theory that at least some of it will become entrenched enough that it will be too difficult to reverse, even if the White House and Congress do return to Republican hands after the election.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Attack of the Killer Orator

President Obama's current vacation on Martha's Vineyard is going to be not just R&R for our beleaguered Commander-In-Chief and his family, but also a working vacation during which he intends to bring his titanic talents to forging the very thing the citizens of our Republic hope and pray he will be able to produce:  a speech.

Seeking to jolt the economy, President Barack Obama will unveil new ideas to create jobs and help the struggling poor and middle class in a major speech after Labor Day. And then he will try to seize political advantage by spending the fall pressuring Congress to act on his plan.

Obama’s plan is likely to contain a mix of tax cuts, jobs-boosting construction projects and steps to help the long-term unemployed, a senior administration official told the Associated Press. The official emphasized that Obama’s proposals would be fresh ones, not a rehash of plans he has pitched for many weeks and still supports, like his idea of an “infrastructure bank” to finance construction jobs.

I'm wondering exactly when the stock markets will have "priced in" the economic impact of the latest evidence of presidential incompetence this speech will no doubt present.  Maybe they already have?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Department of Flounder

The Obama Adminstration is in apparent freak-out mode over the President's diminishing prospects for re-election.  The debt-ceiling deal (and subsequent credit downgrade) is widely unpopular, and combined with the continuing stagnant economy, has quickly brought his approval ratings down below 40 percent in at least one major public opinion poll. A New York Times article over the weekend has detailed some of the debate going on within the White House over how to limit or reverse the political damage to the President over the economy.

The Administration's fears seem to be leading it down the path so many desperate people take:  looking for salvation in stupid ideas.  From the New York Times article:

On Aug. 5, in a move that went virtually unnoticed amid the clamor over a rating agency’s downgrading of United States debt, the administration announced a new jobs program for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Obama called it a “reverse boot camp,” intended to retrain veterans for civilian jobs. Part of the program would include a “returning hero tax credit” for companies that hire unemployed disabled veterans.
The administration may also merge the Department of Commerce, the Office of the United States Trade Representative and some economic divisions at the State Department into a new agency, administration officials said. Possible names include the Department of Jobs or the Department of Competitiveness.

As for the first paragraph:  if the economy wasn't dead in the water, there probably wouldn't be much of a problem with unemployment among recently released service members.  This is a typical liberal solution to a problem that doesn't really exist.

How anyone could think the idea floated in the second paragraph even approaches being sound thinking is puzzling, but we've come to expect this kind of frazzle-dazzle from the White House.  The fact that the Administration has let this idea escape to the wider world tells me they're lost in the woods on the issue of the economy, and it's going to be a long time before they find their way home, if ever.