Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Phony in Chief

Thomas Sowell

When President Barack Obama and others on the left are not busy admonishing the rest of us to be "civil" in our discussions of political issues, they are busy letting loose insults, accusations and smears against those who dare to disagree with them.

Like so many people who have been beaten in a verbal encounter, and who can think of clever things to say the next day, after it is all over, President Obama, after his clear loss in his debate with Mitt Romney, called Governor Romney a "phony."

Innumerable facts, however, show that it is our Commander in Chief who is Phony in Chief. A classic example was his speech to a predominantly black audience at Hampton University on June 5, 2007. That date is important, as we shall see.

In his speech -- delivered in a ghetto-style accent that Obama doesn't use anywhere except when he is addressing a black audience -- he charged the federal government with not showing the same concern for the people of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina hit as they had shown for the people of New York after the 9/11 attacks, or the people of Florida after hurricane Andrew hit.

Departing from his prepared remarks, he mentioned the Stafford Act, which requires communities receiving federal disaster relief to contribute 10 percent as much as the federal government does.

Senator Obama, as he was then, pointed out that this requirement was waived in the case of New York and Florida because the people there were considered to be "part of the American family." But the people in New Orleans -- predominantly black -- "they don't care about as much," according to Barack Obama.

If you want to know what community organizers do, this is it -- rub people's emotions raw to hype their resentments. And this was Barack Obama in his old community organizer role, a role that should have warned those who thought that he was someone who would bring us together, when he was all too well practiced in the arts of polarizing us apart.

Why is the date of this speech important? Because, less than two weeks earlier, on May 24, 2007, the United States Senate had in fact voted 80-14 to waive the Stafford Act requirement for New Orleans, as it had waived that requirement for New York and Florida. More federal money was spent rebuilding New Orleans than was spent in New York after 9/11 and in Florida after hurricane Andrew, combined.

Truth is not a job requirement for a community organizer. Nor can Barack Obama claim that he wasn't present the day of that Senate vote, as he claimed he wasn't there when Jeremiah Wright unleashed his obscene attacks on America from the pulpit of the church that Obama attended for 20 years.

Unlike Jeremiah Wright's church, the U.S. Senate keeps a record of who was there on a given day. The Congressional Record for May 24, 2007 shows Senator Barack Obama present that day and voting on the bill that waived the Stafford Act requirement. Moreover, he was one of just 14 Senators who voted against -- repeat, AGAINST -- the legislation which included the waiver.

When he gave that demagogic speech, in a feigned accent and style, it was world class chutzpah and a rhetorical triumph. He truly deserves the title Phony in Chief.

If you know any true believers in Obama, show them the transcript of his June 5, 2007 speech at Hampton University (available from the Federal News Service) and then show them page S6823 of the Congressional Record for May 24, 2007, which lists which Senators voted which way on the waiver of the Stafford Act requirement for New Orleans.

Some people in the media have tried to dismiss this and other revelations of Barack Obama's real character that have belatedly come to light as "old news." But the truth is one thing that never wears out. The Pythagorean Theorem is 2,000 years old, but it can still tell you the distance from home plate to second base (127 ft.) without measuring it. And what happened five years ago can tell a lot about Barack Obama's character -- or lack of character.

Obama's true believers may not want to know the truth. But there are millions of other people who have simply projected their own desires for a post-racial America onto Barack Obama. These are the ones who need to be confronted with the truth, before they repeat the mistake they made when they voted four years ago.



Scary: Obama Appointed the Jobs Number Cruncher; Scarier: Her Resume

That unemployment rate number on Friday was a total farce, but even if it was completely honest, 7.8% is way too high for an economy that supposedly turned the corner a long time ago.

The number doesn't jibe, with an economy growing at 1.3%. The only honest aspect of the report was that more people were entering the work force, but I guarantee a new line of questioning accompanied the Household Survey. Few people know that President Obama placed a former contract negotiator and union steward to run the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Erica Groshen taught Statistical Methods for Economists, Trade Unions, Collective Bargaining, and Public Policy at Harvard. Although she calls herself "nonpartisan," rumblings about sending her children to a communist summer camp coupled with her left-leaning teachings have many worried. Of course, the Left uses the victim-race card, saying Nixon pushed all the Jews out of BLS, so it's about time. This is scary stuff.

What was real in the Friday number was private sector job creation at 104,000, below consensus and less than half where it was a year ago.

Manufacturing continues to shed jobs, and temp work is exploding. This is a shadow of what America is really all about. But, this is how nations morph when the focus is on squeezing the gap between rich (and the so-called rich) and poor, by browbeating the former, while spreading crumbs to the latter.



Obama’s Bible Issue

So why isn’t a publisher of Bibles eligible for a religious exemption from HHS?

‘Tyndale was left with no alternative but to go to court,”  explains Mark D. Taylor, president and CEO of Tyndale House Publishers. On the day before the first presidential debate, the company, which Taylor’s parents started when he was eleven years old, filed the 31st lawsuit over the Department of Health and Human Services’ abortion-drug, sterilization, and contraception mandate.

Tyndale publishes Bibles. But that doesn’t make it a religious endeavor. Not in the federal government’s book. Not as of August 1, anyway. That was the day that the HHS mandate — a regulation further defining the health-care legislation that then–Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was right to tell us Congress would be passing before anyone knew what it actually contained — went into effect. Family businesses like Tyndale — which happen to be run by religious folk who want to live their lives true to what they believe — don’t qualify for any kind of “accommodation” or exemption.

“The law does not give any religious-freedom exemption to faith-based operations like Tyndale,” Taylor, who is being represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, points out. “Instead, it imposes crushing fines on employers who are doing nothing more than following their consciences against abortion-inducing pills.

The government is supposed to promote conscience protection, not attack it. The best solution is for Congress or the administration to respect the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by eliminating the abortion-pill mandate. But if they refuse to do their duty, we hope the courts will rule that the mandate is unlawful.”

Tyndale, Taylor says, has always existed “for an explicitly religious purpose — to publish the Bible and other Christian publications, and direct the proceeds to ministry and charity.” And this is quite evident from a visit to Tyndale’ s website or to the religion section of most bookstores.

“The government’s policy that publishing the Bible is not a religious activity is disconnected from reality,” he says, echoing conversations I’ve had with other plaintiffs in recent months, including the president of the evangelical Wheaton College, who — like most Americans — wasn’t particularly animated on the issue of religious liberty until he realized how fragile our liberties are if we’re not vigilant. “Never before has the federal government had the nerve to insist that all for-profit businesses are purely secular and cannot have a religious purpose,” Taylor continues. “Americans today clearly agree with America’s founders: The federal government is not qualified to decide what faith is, who the faithful are, and where and how that faith may be lived out.”

The mandate became a practical issue for Tyndale on October 1, the first day of the plan year for the company’s health insurance. (Most companies’ plans start in January, or we’d be seeing right now more injunction requests like the ones filed by Tyndale and by the Hercules HVAC company in Denver, a business run by a Catholic family.) “Out of our religious conscience we have chosen not to comply with aspects of the mandate that promote abortion-inducing pills,” Taylor explains. “But no organization could deal with the crippling, draconian financial and legal penalties on faith that this mandate imposes” — fines of $100 per day per employee. “That is why Tyndale was left with no alternative but to go to court.”

Despite the cogent explanations of people like Taylor, the Department of Justice has been arguing (for example, in pushing back against Hercules in court) that Americans surrender their religious liberty when they choose to participate in “the marketplace of commerce” as employers. And a judge in Missouri has announced in the case of another Catholic business owner, Frank O’Brien, that the HHS mandate is not a religious-liberty violation because O’Brien “is not prevented from keeping the Sabbath, from providing a religious upbringing for his children, or from participating in a religious ritual such as communion.” That’s a pretty restrictive view of religious liberty.

Taylor is not deterred by the Missouri ruling or the administration’s posture. “The Obama administration is simply wrong to argue that one’s faith may be exercised only in private or in churches. We are confident that courts, all the way to the Supreme Court, will uphold and affirm our God-given religious freedom,” Taylor says.

When, in the first presidential debate, Mitt Romney was asked what his idea of the role of government was, he replied: “The role of government: Look behind us. The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. The role of government is to promote and protect the principles of those documents. First, life and liberty. We have a responsibility to protect the lives and liberties of our people.” These are not new ideas for Romney. He has brought up religious liberty many times over the years — on the campaign trail, in speeches, and in campaign commercials. When he first ran in the 2008 Republican primaries, he addressed the issue of “Faith in America” in depth, remembering that our first president considered religion the “indispensable support” for the health of the republic, and pointing out our obligation to protect religious freedom as the first freedom, provided by God, not the government.

The Tyndale case is a reminder of why this is not just talk. The current administration has taken steps that are eroding Americans’ religious freedom. And that ought to be a concern for all of us, regardless of whether or not we’re Bible readers.

“According to the Declaration of Independence,” Taylor reminds us, echoing the Republican presidential candidate, “the role of government is to secure for the people those freedoms endowed to us by our Creator. The Bill of Rights enumerates many of those freedoms, including religious liberty. I would hope voters would evaluate whether the present administration is defending freedom or trampling on it.” If they do, their electoral choice will be clear. This is about more than party politics. It’s about foundations: Tyndale’s, and ours as citizen stewards of liberty.



The $5 trillion tax-cut myth

After 47 percent, the presidential campaign’s most incendiary number is $5 trillion. That’s the tax cut planned by Mitt Romney with most benefits going to the wealthy, according to President Obama and his campaign. The president has used the figure repeatedly, as have his surrogates and ads. In Wednesday’s debate, Romney vehemently denied that there ever was a $5 trillion tax cut for the rich. He’s right. The figure is a partisan construct that, somehow, has been given a pass by most of the media as one plausible version of the truth. It isn’t.

To be sure, the Obama campaign’s enthusiasm for the $5 trillion figure is easily understood. It perfectly fits its spoken and unspoken narratives about Romney. He’s not just wealthy and indifferent to the needs of average Americans; he’s also an eager tool of the wealthy. He’d use his office to cut their taxes and advance their interests at everyone else’s expense. He’s not running for president so much as Leader of the Filthy Rich.

Here’s Obama at one rally:  “My opponent, he believes in top-down economics, thinks that if you spend another $5 trillion on a tax cut skewed towards the wealthy, that prosperity will rain down on everyone else.”

It’s a powerful argument, marred only by the fact that the $5 trillion tax cut is a fiction.  Let’s see how this happened.

Some blame belongs to Romney. He has made many vague, inconsistent and contradictory promises. He would cut all individual income tax rates by 20 percent and then offset lost revenue by eliminating tax breaks — but he doesn’t say which ones. He would reduce government spending from today’s 23 percent of gross domestic product to 20 percent, a $450 billion annual cut — but he doesn’t say how. He would balance the budget and raise defense spending. And so on.

On taxes, uncertainties abound. If you cut everyone’s tax rates by 20 percent, the rich — with the highest rates and the biggest tax bills — get the biggest breaks. The present top rate of 35 percent drops to 28 percent; the lowest rate falls only from 10 percent to 8 percent. (Each reduction is one-fifth, or 20 percent.) If that were all, Romney’s plan would indeed represent a windfall for the wealthy. Those with annual incomes exceeding $1 million would save an average of $175,000, estimates the Tax Policy Center (TPC), a research group. (By the TPC’s estimates, the 0.8 percent of taxpayers with incomes of more than $500,000 currently pay 28 percent of federal taxes.)

But there’s also Romney’s pledge to recoup losses by trimming tax deductions, credits and other tax breaks. The package would be “revenue neutral.” The tax system would then end up with lower rates, which would arguably spur faster economic growth. Workers and companies would keep more of any increased earnings; they’d have stronger incentives to work and invest. Although it’s contestable, that’s the theory of “tax reform.”

The trouble is that there’s a major snag, the TPC said in an August report. In practice, the tax breaks affecting the rich (generally, those with incomes exceeding $200,000) aren’t sufficient to offset all of their tax savings from lower rates. Achieving revenue neutrality would compel Romney to raise taxes on the middle class — something he has also vowed not to do.

To justify its $5 trillion figure — the estimated tax loss over a decade — the Obama campaign had to cherry-pick Romney’s proposal and the TPC analysis. It had to ignore any revenue raised by reducing tax breaks and assume that, faced with a conflict between the rich and the middle class, Romney would automatically side with the rich — as opposed to shielding the middle class from any tax increase. On Wednesday, Romney promised to protect the middle class.

The TPC report was widely interpreted as saying Romney would have to raise taxes on the middle class. It didn’t, says the TPC’s Howard Gleckman. It simply pointed out that he couldn’t keep all “his ambitious campaign promises.” He’d have to make choices and modifications. So what else is new?

Politicians exaggerate and simplify. They make more promises than can be kept. They take inconsistent positions. Romney is guilty of this, but so is Obama. Obama says he favors tax reform but would also raise the top income tax rate from 35 to 39.6 percent. That’s the opposite of what most economists consider reform: cutting rates and broadening the tax base. Similarly, Obama has said he would maintain a strong military while rapidly reducing defense spending.

The media are rightly hounding Romney about how he’d offset revenue losses from his proposed cuts in tax rates. But the hounding ought to be evenhanded. Obama needs to be pressed on the many inconsistencies of his promises and policies.




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1 comment:

Robert said...

Re: Obama's Bible Issue, I am reminded of some paragraphs I read in Future History that seem salient:

"...Thus if our spiritual Father is Yahweh, we will one way or another reflect and advance His love to those around us.... Satan’s goal is our submission. Likewise, his children invariably attempt to suppress, dominate--even enslave--others in order to elevate themselves by comparison. It is one’s relative position that becomes important to them. A key component is pride, leading to arrogance, leading in turn to abuse--the antithesis of love."

I, along with millions of Americans, have recognized the so-called "law" that arrogates control of the health care system to the government as nothing more than a scheme to dominate, control, and even enslave, and instinctively deplore, and could even say hate, such a system. The quoted lines above put into words what so many of us understand instinctively, even if we have trouble putting why into words - systems designed to dominate, control, and enslave, and those who advance and seek to advance them, are Satanic. That also ties in well with Evan Sayet's quote in the sidebar: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." That's because they're Satanic, or slaves of the Satanic. And it's for the same reason why they make common cause with Islam - the Satanic joining with the Satanic against the good, normal, and moral.