Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Chicago Way

Despite Rahm Emanuel’s departure from the White House, the coercive, dominating style of the Chicago Way is still infiltrating Barack Obama’s presidency. Americans for Limited Government (ALG) put together a report highlighting examples of the president and his team’s most egregious actions.


Recently, the Obama campaign set up the AttackWatch.com website. Essentially, this is a replay of the earlier Obama Administration project to have supporters inform the White House of attacks on Obama. That effort quickly failed amidst a firestorm of controversy. Of course, critics are ridiculing the new snitch website.


In 2008, George Kaiser raised tens of thousands of dollars for Obama. Kaiser’s family foundation invested in Solyndra, a company that manufactured solar panels. Solyndra’s board members and executives also gave generously to Obama. After Obama’s Inauguration, Kaiser became a frequent White House visitor. Although Solyndra’s application was rejected by the Bush Administration, the Obama Administration gave over $500 million in loan guarantees to Solyndra as part of the “stimulus.” Emails have emerged revealing the White House pressured bureaucrats to decide quickly on the loan.

Vice President Biden appeared by satellite at a company groundbreaking event, and Obama even visited Solyndra’s plant. As the “green energy” company continued to lose money, the Obama Administration even changed the terms of the agreement to make them more favorable to Solyndra’s investors in case of the company’s default. Of course, the change in terms made the deal even more risky for taxpayers. Solyndra recently declared bankruptcy, and Congress is demanding answers.


There is concern among the military that LightSquared, a new wireless broadband company, would interfere with military GPS systems. Tests at White Sands Missile Range have confirmed these fears. The majority owner of LightSquared is Philip Falcone, a billionaire and Obama bundler. Billionaire George Soros, the generous funder of liberal causes, also invested in LightSquared, and organizations to which Soros has contributed have been supportive of LightSquared.

Recently, four-star Air Force General William Shelton testified before Congress about LightSquared. Shelton runs the North American Aerospace Defense Command. At the hearing, Shelton complained that the White House had pressured him to change his testimony to be more favorable toward LightSquared. The White House wanted him to claim that the military could adapt to LightSquared, an endeavor that could require billions of dollars and years of research.

Since then, Anthony Russo, director of the National Coordination Office for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing, has come forward claiming that the White House wanted to make changes to his testimony as well. The White House wanted Russo to say that testing would be completed in 90 days, but Russo found that timeframe to be too optimistic and refused.

Fox News

Obama has long had a frosty relationship with Fox News. Now the Justice Department is investigating to see whether its parent company, News Corp., broke any laws by paying British police officers for information.

These few examples only scratch the surface.



The jobs plan that couldn’t

Even Donk legislators don't like it

“I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away. It’s called the American Jobs Act. There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation. Everything in here is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans — including many who sit here tonight. And everything in this bill will be paid for. Everything. (Applause.)”

That’s what President Obama told lawmakers Sept. 8 in a hastily called joint session of Congress. But it was — and is — a flat-out lie, and Mr. Obama knows it.

He has since then traveled the country to pitch the plan, exclusively to partisan Democratic crowds that whoop and cheer at the brilliance of it all. He even got wealthy donors to chant “pass this bill!” even though it substantially raises taxes.

Now, however, we are beginning to see the truth behind the fiction. Not only is the president’s job bill not “the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans,” it’s not even the kind of proposal that Democrats can currently support.

On Monday, senators passed a bill to keep the government open into the next fiscal year and then headed out on vacation for the rest of the week. Majority Leader Harry Reid said when they return they’ll get back to work — not on the jobs bill, but on a measure to punish China over its currency valuation. Mr. Reid said that bill is a bigger priority right now.

There’s a story making the rounds in Washington that explains Mr. Reid’s dyspeptic countenance. On a secret meeting at the White House after the debt-ceiling deal collapsed (mainly because Mr. Obama doubled the amount of taxes he wanted), the president sat with the top Republican and Democrat from both the House and Senate. They offered a deal, one that all four agreed on and that all four vowed could get through the two chambers.

Mr. Obama nixed it. In one version of the story, a peeved Mr. Reid said, “I’m not going to do anything for that [expletive] again.”

By the end of the week, Democrats were in open revolt. Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, asked whether his party had the votes to pass the president’s bill, said flatly: “Not at the moment, I don’t think we do, but, uh, we can work on it.” He added: “We’re not going to have 100 percent of Democratic senators [support the bill], that’s why it needs to be bipartisan.”

The reason is simple: Democrats in the House and Senate stand for re-election in just 13 months, and their campaigns will be difficult enough without raising taxes just before voters go to the polls. Said a blunt Mr. Durbin: “There are some senators who are up for election who say ‘I’m never gonna vote for a tax increase while I’m up for election, even on the wealthiest people.’”

Makes sense. It’s a hard sell for lawmakers if they pass the bill, which would raise taxes by $467 billion on wealthier Americans and corporations.

And Mr. Obama knew that when he delivered his big speech last month. His strategy is clear (if simple-minded): blame Congress for the mess America’s in. But in so doing, he has caught up his fellow Democrats who, pressed to the wall, are fully prepared to bail on him and save their own skins. They want no part of the amateurish strategy to try to blame Congress, half-controlled by Democrats.

In fact, even some of the most rabidly liberal Democrats are planning to abandon the president because they see he’s only interested in saving his job, not theirs. More, Mr. Obama is throwing his former Senate colleagues under the bus as he scrambles to win another term.

So, this jobs bill is dead. And no matter how many times Mr. Obama repeats the lie that his “is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans,” it will be House Republicans who write a bill that can actually pass the Senate.



President Obama's Health Care Law Not Fulfilling Promise

The news that health insurance premiums are again rising rapidly is the latest reminder that President Obama's health care law is producing the opposite of what it promised.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-Sen. Obama promised health care reform that would lower premiums for the typical family by $2,500.

That year, the average premium for an employer-based family plan rose 5 percent to $12,680. Premiums rose another 5 percent in 2009 and 3 percent in 2010.

But the first batch of Obamacare mandates didn't take effect until late 2010, so their impact wasn't felt until this year. What happened? Premiums surged by 9 percent to more than $15,000 per family.

Those figures come from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which supports Obamacare and estimates the law is contributing at most 2 percentage points to that increase. This estimate conceals the law's crushing impact on many households.

Just before the first batch of mandates took effect, insurers reported Obamacare would increase premiums for some consumers by up to 30 percent in 2011. But that was before the Obama administration accused carriers of "misinformation." Yet the truth has a way of stepping into the light.

Multiple reports show the news will get worse in 2014, when the waivers expire and the law takes full effect.

MIT health economist Jonathan Gruber projects that six out of 10 consumers in Wisconsin's individual market will see their premiums go up by an average of 31 percent. Many will see much larger increases. Gruber is one of Obamacare's biggest supporters, and was even a paid consultant to the Obama administration. Will the administration now accuse him of spreading misinformation?

In Ohio, some consumers in the individual market will see their premiums rise by 55 to 85 percent. Young, healthy males could see their premiums rise by 90 to 130 percent. And some small businesses will see their premiums rise by 150 percent, according to the actuarial consulting firm Milliman, Inc.

These massive rate hikes will be inflicted by the same president who once described a 39 percent increase by Anthem Blue Cross of California as "jaw-dropping," and a secretary of Health and Human Services who wrote that Anthem's "extraordinary" increases could "make health care unaffordable for hundreds of thousands of Californians, many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet in a difficult economy." If that's true, then won't Obamacare's much larger premium hikes do the same?

Recent events have also belied Obama's reassurance that "no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise. ... If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what."

Principal Financial Group responded to the law by dropping out of the market, leaving nearly a million Americans to find new coverage.

In a study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, University of Minnesota economists Jean M. Abraham and Pinar Karaca-Mandic estimated that Obamacare's "medical loss ratio" rule could throw more than 155,000 Americans with costly medical conditions out of their individual-market coverage.

Milliman projects the law will cause many who currently have employer-sponsored coverage to go uninsured when their employer drops coverage.

The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that many "children" have enrolled in their parent's coverage under Obamacare's mandate that plans with dependent coverage be open to children up to age 26. But Kaiser didn't even bother to ask whether any employers responded by dropping dependent coverage entirely, despite reports suggesting the law caused thousands of children to lose their dependent coverage this way.

There's no hiding it. Obamacare is delivering the opposite of what its supporters promised.

When Anthem officials re-examined their books, they admitted the 39-percent rate hike was an error and rescinded it. Here's hoping the Obama administration has at least as much integrity as an insurance company.



Misleading talk about extremism

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads," Woody Allen once said. "One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly."

Americans face a similar crossroads now. On the one hand, they can vote for the most extreme, dangerous bunch of radicals ever to appear on a ballot in an election year. Or if they prefer, they could vote for the most radical, dangerous bunch of extremists ever to—well, you know.

The other day the Democratic Party of Virginia sent out an email blast with the subject line "The most extreme line up ever." It warned that Democratic candidates this year were "running against a slate of extreme tea party Republicans who want to drag this Commonwealth backward. This year the stakes are higher than ever." The email goes along with the party's new video condemning—yep—"the most extreme Republican ticket in history."

This is but the latest example in a long and richly bipartisan tradition of bashing opponents as the most extreme bunch of lunatics ever to spew from Satan's colon. And while the wording changes slightly, the message never does. A couple decades ago, state Democratic Party Chairman Mark Warner was declaring the GOP candidates "the most extreme right-wing ticket ever"—while 300 hundred miles to the north, Republican Rudy Giuliani was opining that "Democratic primaries are won by the most extreme candidate." (Namely his opponent, whoever that turned out to be.)

The next year, Oliver North challenged Chuck Robb for the Senate, denouncing the moderate Democrat as an "extremist." Robb returned the favor. In 2001, state GOP director Ed Matricardi excoriated the Democratic lineup as the "most liberal" in Virginia's history, while Democrats termed the GOP ticket "the most right-wing" in years.

Last year, Mass Resistance, a Massachusetts-oriented political group, lamented: "Mass GOP Convention Nominates Most Extreme Pro-Gay & Anti-Family Gov & Lt. Gov. Candidates Ever." Which was odd, because about the same time, the abortion-rights website RH Reality Check was warning, in "More GOP Candidates More Extreme Than Ever," that "the 2010 crop of GOP candidates" displayed "more extreme stances on reproductive-rights issues than we've seen in a long time." So apparently the GOP was nominating candidates who were virulently both pro-gay and anti-abortion. Inscrutable, those Republicans.

During the 2008 campaign, John McCain denounced Barack Obama for having "the most extreme" voting record in the Senate. Obama, McCain said, "is more to the left than the announced socialist in the United States Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont."

Likewise Robert P. George, McCormick professor of jurisprudence at Princeton, who wrote a widely circulated piece contending that Obama was "the most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever to seek the office of President of the United States. . . . Indeed, he is the most extreme pro-abortion legislator ever to serve in either house of the United States Congress."

In some ways this amounts to nothing more than the silly hot air that all campaigns blow. It's pretty hard to get out the vote by saying, "The other guys? Ehhh, they're not so bad."

And in the heat of the campaign, many voters actually do convince themselves the other guys are the worst ever. The University of California's Jonas Kaplan studies the psychology of political affiliation. As he explains, "in the political process, people come to decisions early on and then spend the rest of the time making themselves feel good about their decision."

Many in the media are glad to help them do it, by serving up an endless train of alarmist articles about how one side or the other is chock-full of bug-eyed nut jobs pushing hidden agendas and radical ideas: Christian "dominionism" (Rick Perry), anti-colonialist Alinskyite subversion (Barack Obama), Straussian neoconservatism (George W. Bush).

Of course, it might be true that in some instances, a candidate really is the "most extreme ever" along some axis or another. But does this tell us anything important? Not so much.

Suppose that, in 1955, a Southern political candidate had declared segregation obscene, laws against ethnic intermarriage odious, and the notion of racial supremacy grotesque. Suppose he organized bus boycotts and lunch-counter sit-ins and marches for civil rights. Suppose he promised to overturn Jim Crow as soon as he took office. If any candidate had done that, he would have been widely denounced as the "most extreme" you-know-what-lover ever.

He also would have been right.


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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)


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