Tuesday, March 09, 2010
The end of the road for Barack Obama?
Barack Obama seems unable to face up to America's problems, writes Simon Heffer in New York
It is a universal political truth that administrations do not begin to fragment when things are going well: it only happens when they go badly, and those who think they know better begin to attack those who manifestly do not. The descent of Barack Obama's regime, characterised now by factionalism in the Democratic Party and talk of his being set to emulate Jimmy Carter as a one-term president, has been swift and precipitate. It was just 16 months ago that weeping men and women celebrated his victory over John McCain in the American presidential election. If they weep now, a year and six weeks into his rule, it is for different reasons.
Despite the efforts of some sections of opinion to talk the place up, America is mired in unhappiness, all the worse for the height from which Obamania has fallen. The economy remains troublesome. There is growth – a good last quarter suggested an annual rate of as high as six per cent, but that figure is probably not reliable – and the latest unemployment figures, last Friday, showed a levelling off. Yet 15 million Americans, or 9.7 per cent of the workforce, have no job. Many millions more are reduced to working part-time. Whole areas of the country, notably in the north and on the eastern seaboard, are industrial wastelands. The once mighty motor city of Detroit appears slowly to be being abandoned, becoming a Jurassic Park of the mid-20th century; unemployment among black people in Mr Obama's own city of Chicago is estimated at between 20 and 25 per cent. One senior black politician – a Democrat and a supporter of the President – told me of the wrath in his community that a black president appeared to be unable to solve the economic problem among his own people. Cities in the east such as Newark and Baltimore now have drug-dealing as their principal commercial activity: The Wire is only just fictional.
Last Thursday the House of Representatives passed a jobs Bill, costing $15 billion, which would give tax breaks to firms hiring new staff and, through state sponsorship of construction projects, create thousands of jobs too. The Senate is trying to approve a Bill that would provide a further $150 billion of tax incentives to employers. Yet there is a sense of desperation in the Administration, a sense that nothing can be as efficacious at the moment as a sticking plaster. Edward B Montgomery, deputy labour secretary in the Clinton administration, now spends his time on day trips to decaying towns that used to have a car industry, not so much advising them on how to do something else as facilitating those communities' access to federal funds. For a land without a welfare state, America starts to do an effective impersonation of a country with one. This massive state spending gives rise to accusations by Republicans, and people too angry even to be Republicans, that America is now controlled by "Leftists" and being turned into a socialist state.
"Obama's big problem," a senior Democrat told me, "is that four times as many people watch Fox News as watch CNN." The Fox network is a remarkable cultural phenomenon which almost shocks those of us from a country where a technical rule of impartiality is applied in the broadcast media. With little rest, it pours out rage 24 hours a day: its message is of the construction of the socialist state, the hijacking of America by "progressives" who now dominate institutions, the indoctrination of children, the undermining of religion and the expropriation of public money for these nefarious projects. The public loves it, and it is manifestly stirring up political activism against Mr Obama, and also against those in the Republican Party who are not deemed conservatives. However, it is arguable whether the now-reorganising Right is half as effective in its assault on the President as some of Mr Obama's own party are.
Mr Obama benefited in his campaign from an idiotic level of idolatry, in which most of the media participated with an astonishing suspension of cynicism. The sound of the squealing of brakes is now audible all over the American press; but the attack is being directed not at the leader himself, but at those around him. There was much unconditional love a year or so ago of Rahm Emanuel, Mr Obama's Chief of Staff; oleaginous profiles of this Chicago political hack, a veteran of that unlovely team that polluted the Clinton White House, appeared in otherwise respectable journals, praising the combination of his religious devotion, his family-man image, his ruthless operating technique and his command of the vocabulary of profanity. Now, supporters of the President are blaming Mr Emanuel for the failure of the Obama project, not least for his inability to construct a deal on health care.
This went down badly with friends of Mr Emanuel, notably with Mr Emanuel himself. His partisans, apparently taking dictation from him, have filled newspaper columns and blogs with uplifting accounts of the Wonder of Rahm: as one of them put it, "Emanuel is the only person preventing Obama from becoming Jimmy Carter". They attack other Obama "sycophants", such as David Axelrod, his campaign guru, and Valerie Jarret, a long-time friend of Mrs Obama and a fixer from the office of Mayor Daley of Chicago who now manages – or tries to manage – the President's image. These "sycophants" have, they argue, tried to keep the President above politics, letting Congress run away with the agenda, and gainsaying Mr Emanuel's advice to Mr Obama to get tough with his internal opponents. This naïve act of manipulation has brought its own counter-counterattack, with an anti-Emanuel pundit drawing a comparison with our own Prime Minister and ridiculing the idea that Mr Obama should start bullying people too.
The root of the problem seems to be the management of expectations. The magnificent campaign created the notion that Mr Obama could walk on water. Oddly enough, he can't. That was more Mr Axelrod's fault than Mr Emanuel's. And, to be fair to Mr Emanuel, any advice he has been giving the President to impose his will on Congress is probably well founded. The $783 billion stimulus package of a year ago was used to further the re-election prospects of many congressmen, not to do good for the country. America's politics remain corrupt, populated by nonentities whose main concern once elected is to stay elected; it seems to be the same the whole world over. Even this self-interested use of the stimulus package appears to have failed, however. Every day, it seems, another Democrat congressman announces that he will not be fighting the mid-term elections scheduled for November 2. The health care Bill, apparently so humane in intent, is being "scrubbed" (to use the terminology of one Republican) by its opponents, to the joy of millions of middle Americans who see it as a means to waste more public money and entrench socialism. For the moment, this is a country vibrant with anger.
A thrashing of the Democrats in the mid-terms would not necessarily be the beginning of the end for Mr Obama: Bill Clinton was re-elected two years after the Republicans swept the House and the Senate in November 1994. But Mr Clinton was an operator in a way Mr Obama patently is not. His lack of experience, his dependence on rhetoric rather than action, his disconnection from the lives of many millions of Americans all handicap him heavily. It is not about whose advice he is taking: it is about him grasping what is wrong with America, and finding the will to put it right. That wasted first year, however, is another boulder hanging from his neck: what is wrong needs time to put right. The country's multi-trillion dollar debt is barely being addressed; and a country engaged in costly foreign wars has a President who seems obsessed with anything but foreign policy – as a disregarded Britain is beginning to realise.
There are lessons from the stumbling of Mr Obama for our own country as we approach a general election. Vacuous promises of change are hostages to fortune if they cannot be delivered upon to improve the living conditions of a people. The slickness of campaigning that comes from a combination of heavy funding and public relations expertise does not inevitably translate into an ability to govern. There is no point a nation's having the audacity of hope unless it also has the sophistication and the will to turn it into action. As things stand, Barack Obama and America under his leadership do not.
American Media, Blaming the ‘Right’: From Duranty and the KGB to Reuters
A recent article by Reuters is good reason to revisit the history of statist American media. A Reuters article last month titled “German protesters stop neo-Nazi march in Dresden” takes a hyper-partisan stab at what would otherwise have been a dull story. The article is short, 474 words, and describes a neo-Nazi funeral march in the German city to remember Nazi deaths by the Allied air raid in WWII. This event was thwarted by anti-Nazi protesters.
In this brief article about clear-cut good and evil, the political “right-wing” is awkwardly invoked six times, including under the caption. Such a ham-handed approach to finger-pointing can hardly go unnoticed. It is a sloppy attempt to paint the right-wing as sharing the ideology of one of the most evil men in history, Adolf Hitler.
As many people are beginning to understand, Nazism has nothing to do with modern conservatism or the clichéd “extreme right-wing” canard favored by the political left. In fact, all totalitarian regimes are on the extreme political left; nothing but anarchy exists on the extreme political right.
The modern left has its roots in the political phenomenon of the 1930s when progressivism, communism, fascism, socialism, and Nazism coalesced under the common flag of centralized governments and an ideology of collectivism. This worldwide movement went largely unchallenged ideologically until the reassertion of classical liberalism through the American conservative movement in the 1950s. The in-vogue politics of the 1930s spanned merely from the “right-wing” nationalistic fascism of Mussolini and Hitler to a “left-wing” muddle of socialism, Marxism, and communism.
To equate the George Washington-loving, Constitution-quoting, flag-carrying, tea partying conservatives of today with the Nazis or fascism is an exercise in fear mongering and a simple wordplay on the misconceptions of the historical context of “right-wing.” (For a simplistic explanation of this assertion, see this brief video.)
The “objectivity” of the modern press is often breached by such outbursts, as seen in the article referenced above. The political right-wing is excoriated through straw men and outright lies to be subliminal reminders of the purported righteousness of the ideological left. Nothing less can be expected of those with no defense based on their own history...
The most recent attempt on the alteration of history was perpetuated by Time magazine in its “The Year in Pictures” 2009 photo essay. One of the largest citizen marches on Washington, D.C., was conducted by the tea party movement on September 12, 2009. Estimates varied wildly from 60,000 to a whopping 2 million participants. A picture from this march was omitted from the essay. In fact, no reference at all was made to the massive grassroots phenomenon.
Instead, a photo of people simultaneously exhaling marijuana was included, as was a photo of a koala bear in a Melbourne animal rescue center. This tactic is from Soviet Russia. It was implemented under Stalin to purge political and military opposition from existence, both literally and historically. Aside from mass executions, prominent resisters and political competition had their faces sloppily airbrushed or blotted out in photographs. This was an intentional psychological blow by Stalin because it sent a message that his opposition would not only be defeated, but would ultimately be stricken from the record of history. It created a feeling for dissenters of utter futility.
Any shred of leftist intellectual honesty and journalistic curiosity was obliterated once Senator Obama threw his hat into the ring as a presidential candidate. The “mainstream” media whored out its last shred of credibility in a non-stop sycophantic obsession with this man of mystery. Having no desire to investigate clear connections to domestic terrorist William Ayers or Obama’s twenty-year relationship with black nationalist Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the media concentrated on defending the idea of “hope and change” personified.
Conservative commentator and rising media star Glenn Beck outs anti-capitalists in Washington, reports on economic news otherwise ignored by the American press, and teaches economic principles and American history to his audience. It’s not exactly the Jerry Springer styled chair-throwing brawl the left expects of Beck’s supposed neo-Nazi, gun-nut, ignorant, and religiously fanatical viewers. But then again, it’s possible the left could be wrong.
Most of his media critics even go so far as to enumerate Beck’s own weighty claims, but rather than demonstrate journalistic curiosity, they mock the messenger instead. Such antics smack of a desperation to retain control of information, especially as Beck’s recommended books and organizations rocket in sales and membership.
Activist and filmmaker James O’Keefe and friend Hanna Giles, featured on Glenn Beck’s show, single-handedly exposed the left-wing corruption ring of ACORN. Even an exasperated and self-proclaimed “fake journalist,” Jon Stewart, exclaimed: “Where were the real reporters on this story?”
After Climategate was plastered over European newspapers, the American “mainstream” media couldn’t even muster the will for corrections on previous alarmist climate articles, much less give equal exposure for the scandal. In fact, during snowstorms up and down the east coast, the New York Times published a defiant and lengthy op-ed by none other than Alliance for Climate Protection founder Al Gore.
Nary a peep came from a sleepy media while children were compelled by schools to sing songs of praise about Obama and celebrities pledged to be “a servant to the president.” These disturbing events send chills down the spines of anyone acquainted with even a passing knowledge of fascist propaganda tactics.
The left-wing media was unconcerned with phone conversations conducted at the behest the White House to plan propaganda for Obama’s agenda by the National Endowment for the Arts. At the very least MSNBC should have been outraged that they weren’t directed to step up their efforts before being replaced. The story broke on Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood and later followed on Fox News.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of efforts ranging from unethical to egregious on the part of the media to promote a left-wing ideology. In fact, if the proxy war on conservatism through attacks on Republicans were included, this could easily be a book. But I’ll stop it here. In fairness, not all the wailing and gnashing of teeth from left-wing ideologues are unleashed on conservatives. Their Tourette-like outbursts of angry or childish musings can occasionally find even the most unlikely of targets: Maureen Dowd from the New York Times, in the midst of a slobbering entry about Barack Obama, did happen to criticize his ears for “sticking out.”
Of course, it wasn’t long before Dowd was “put on notice” that Obama had been “teased relentlessly as a kid” for his big ears. After that, she rejoined her journalistic cohorts in what they do best — polishing the boots of dictators.
New Obama Appointment Has Castro Ties : "President Obama made a terrible mistake nominating Mari Del Carmen Aponte to be ambassador to El Salvador. Aside from the fact that Aponte has given tens of thousands of dollars to Democrats, why would Obama waste more political capital trying to get this controversial and incompetent nominee into government? Nearly a dozen years ago, President Clinton nominated Aponte to be ambassador to the Dominican Republic. Several months later, her nomination was withdrawn because Aponte did not wish to answer Senators' tough questions about her past".
WI: ACORN registration workers charged with felony voter fraud: "Five Wisconsin residents, including two who worked for community organizing group ACORN, were charged Monday with election fraud relating to the 2008 presidential election. State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced felony charges against Maria Miles, Kevin Clancy, Michael Henderson, Herbert Gunka and Suzanne Gunka. Miles and Clancy worked for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now and are accused of submitting multiple voter registration applications for the same individuals, including each other, to meet voter registration quotas imposed by the community organizing group. Henderson is charged with one count of voting by a disqualified person and providing false information to election officials. The allegation claims he was on a felony probation and prohibited from voting at the time. Herbert and Suzanne Gunka are each charged with double voting -- a felony -- by allegedly absentee voting and then going to the polls to vote."
Obama, Congress wink at massive surveillance abuses: "Here's how it was supposed to be. Under his administration, candidate Barack Obama explained in 2007, America would abandon the "false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide." There would be "no more National Security Letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime" because "that is not who we are, and it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists." The serial betrayal of that hope reached its culmination last week, when a Democratic-controlled Congress quietly voted to reauthorize three controversial provisions of the USA Patriot Act without implementing a single one of the additional safeguards that had been under consideration -- among them, more stringent limits on the national security letters (NSLs) Obama had once decried. Worse yet, the vote came on the heels of the revelation, in a blistering inspector general's report, that Obama's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) had issued a secret opinion, once again granting retroactive immunity for systematic lawbreaking -- and opening the door for the FBI to ignore even the current feeble limits on its power to vacuum up sensitive telecommunications records."
CBS Radio Fails to Mention Muslims’ Role in Massacre of Hundreds of Christians in Nigeria: "The differences between news reports on the recent massacre of hundreds in Nigeria are stark. Listening to St. Louis’ KMOX-AM 1120 this morning, I heard the CBS Radio News report about about some 200 people being killed in “sectarian violence” during the past few days had left at least 200 dead in Nigeria. Conversely, Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald reported that the latest violence appeared unrelated to national sectarian political frictions. What else did the report from “the land down under” mention that CBS chose to omit? Two key facts: The vast majority of people killed were Christians; and Those doing the killing — primarily with machetes — were Muslims."
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 8:55 PM