Tag: Barack Obama

US Department of Fake

 

I ran into Greg Potemkin in DC yesterday when I was in town to lobby for The Euthanamerica Foundation, which I helped establish to counteract the obsessive focus on young Asians being promoted by the Oregon-based Euthanasia Society.

Greg is considerably younger than I, but we became fast friends five years ago when we toured Uzbekistan together for the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) to promote magic awareness and escapism. After exchanging the traditional IBM greeting, which consists of pulling multi-colored scarves from each other’s ears until we were worn out, we retired to the nearest Starbutts to catch up.

B.O.’s Final Days in Office

 

I ran into my old girlfriend, Dee Facto, yesterday as she walked out of the world-famous Anthony “All Beef” Weiner wing of the Capitol Hill Sex Addiction Clinic and Spa in Washington, DC.

Dee looked worn out.

Who Wore It Better: Obamanomics or the Bernanke Fed?

 

The other day I asked, “So did Obamanomics work or not?” It is a complicated question, one that cannot be satisfactorily answered just by comparing today’s jobless rate or GDP growth rate to what they were when Barack Obama took office in 2008.

Now there’s one specific complication I mentioned in passing, but deserved more emphasis: monetary policy. How much credit does the Bernanke Fed deserve for staunching the bleeding, strengthening the recovery, and offsetting austerity? For instance: Some economists credit the third round of the Fed’s quantitative easing program in 2012 for offsetting 2013 tax hikes and sequester budget cuts — and avoiding a double-dip recession.

The Silence and the Outrage

 

By ArashnikkhahOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Time magazine called it “the most widely witnessed death in human history:” the moment when a bullet hit Neda Soltan in the chest and she gasped for air in the crowded Tehran street. Soltan was protesting the Iranian 2009 election results when she was shot and killed by a member of the Basij, an arm of the Revolutionary Guards, and she died on the street like an animal for daring to speak her mind.

6 Reasons Every Conservative Should Be Happy Today

 

Given my, shall we say … imperfect record at prognostication, I’m going to avoid anything that looks like a prediction. But with that aside:

  1. Hillary Clinton is not taking the Oath of Office. For nearly a quarter century, this had been (rightly) the stuff of conservative nightmares and it’s not happening. I think everyone here can be glad to have dodged that particular bullet.
  2. President Barack Obama is leaving office. While the rest of his party suffered defeat after defeat, Obama always managed to emerge — if not unscathed — then at least whole. As of today, the Left’s great (and, currently) only effective champion has left the field.
  3. President-Elect Donald Trump’s appointments and nominees make for, on the whole, an impressive crowd. Especially after the last eight years, it’ll be incredibly refreshing to have senior federal officials who don’t believe that the center of the universe is on the Potomac River.
  4. Similarly, someone who didn’t spend his whole life running for president is about to take office. This is, in itself, a very good thing, if only for breaking the usual pattern.
  5. We have a highly-motivated Congress that is, more or less, the Tea Party Congress that was elected in 2010. The analogy’s far from perfect, but imagine what Newt Gingrich could have accomplished with a friendly president in the White House.
  6. The Republican Party holds a majority of governorships and state legislatures. Twenty-three states have both Republican governors and Republican majorities in their legislatures; by the same measure, Democrats control only seven state governments. This is an incredible opportunity to do good work (or, at least, stop bad work from continuing) without Washington running interference.

It bears mentioning — it always does — that this too shall pass. But we should savor the moment and make the most of the opportunity.

So Did Obamanomics Work or Not?

 

How to evaluate the economic record of Barack Obama? To even begin answering, it’s necessary to go beyond just counting the number of jobs created during his presidency (10 million) or calculating the average growth rate (1.5%) or even looking at something more wonky like the labor force participation rate.

First, a president’s policy actions may take years to play out. Reaganomics didn’t move the needle on productivity growth during the 1980s. But maybe they helped set the stage for the 1990s boom. The US economy is a complicated piece of business. Its deeper structural components are altered neither easily nor quickly. Will universal healthcare — or whatever form it morphs into under the GOP — make us healthier, or promote entrepreneurship? Will Dodd Frank prevent future financial crises or constrain lending or both?

Second, even evaluating policies meant to have immediate impact is hard. Consider the ongoing debate about the 2009 stimulus plan. Sure, there are models purporting to show this or that many jobs created or GDP percentage points added. But there was also a lot else happening back then, including unorthodox monetary policy and a dramatic regulatory expansion.

President Obama’s Disastrous Record on Race

 

President Barack Obama and advisor Valerie Jarrett hold a White House meeting with Black Lives Matters activists, Feb. 18, 2016.

On Election Day 2008, many Democrats welcomed a new post-racial America. The hideous blight of slavery and Jim Crow could never be forgotten, but our first African-American President would in some small way help atone for those sins and ultimately transcend them. Even Republicans shared the emotions of Grant Park, where thousands crying elderly blacks finally saw that America could elect a person of color.

Obama’s Dangerous Palestinian Gambit

 

As we reach the end of the Obama presidency, U.S.–Israeli relations are in a state of turmoil after the administration abstained on the UN Security Council vote of December 23, 2016 regarding Resolution 2234, which, among other things, “Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied by since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”

To say that this resolution has not been well received in the United States is something of an understatement. The House of Representatives, for instance, recently issued a nonbinding resolution that condemned the UN act as “one-sided and anti-Israel.”

At this point, it is imperative to take a close look at what the resolution says to see whether or not this and similar charges raised against it can be sustained. That inquiry in turn has to deal with two issues, one legal and one political. The first question is whether the Israeli settlements are in fact a flagrant violation of international law. The second asks whether the settlements are a serious impediment to the creation of a two-state solution. I conclude that the UN resolution overstates its condemnation of Israel, and join the chorus of those who think that the Obama administration stumbled badly when its abstention allowed the Resolution to become official UN policy.

A Few Thoughts on Obama’s Final Jobs Friday

 

Beyond the topline numbers — 156,000 jobs, 4.7% unemployment rate — some really good stuff in the December jobs report, the last one of the Obama presidency. The labor force participation rate ticked up, while the U-6 underemployment-unemployment rate ticked down to its lowest level since April 2008. A record 75 straight months of employment growth. But here is the biggie: Wages climbed 2.9% over the past year, the strongest growth since June 2009.

So how does the Obama economy go out after coming in during a time of recession and financial crisis? Well, the GDP numbers tell a pretty gloomy story, but the job market offers a bit brighter one about the economy. I am inclined to think jobs might be more informative statistic here. This is in line with my view that possible productivity mismeasurement could result in GDP numbers understating the true pace of economic growth. At the same time, both boosting productivity growth and labor force participation need to be prime priorities of the next administration.

Operation Dribble: Aftermath

 

Exhausted from breaking up fights all over the Trump Hotel Washington gym, I watched gratefully as lobbyists, cheerleaders, and fans finally filtered out.

There was only one serious injury. D’s Head Coach HRC had retrieved the ashtray she threw at William Rodham Clinton, and on her second try, beaned him good. The wound in his hairline bled profusely, causing the former president to schedule a cosmetic surgery haircut at Washington National.

A Hanukkah Message to the UN Security Council

 

I actually think it’s poetic. As Hanukkah, a festival of Jewish resistance, approaches, the world turns on the Jewish state and a former ally shows its true colors. Much is being said about Obama’s choice to abstain from voting on the UN Security council resolution, condemning Israeli settlements as illegal, and much will continue to be said, but judging by what I have seen so far I am neither impressed nor overly interested.

None of us can really be that surprised, right? This was an obvious move by President Obama, a suitable last hurrah if you will, from a man who from day one set out to set himself apart as the breaker of ties and holder of grudges. He was never a friend of Israel, and combined with his not-too-subtle need for pompous pageantry, this last kick in the gut toward Israel was a given, and boy did he give it with a bang.

All the emotional upheaval not withstanding, this means very little for the outgoing President, but to others, it means all the more. What Obama did by choosing not to veto this vote was to re-elect Netanyahu and throw support behind Donald Trump that he otherwise could have never expected to receive. Up until now, the liberal Jews have supported and defended Obama and his policies, but as he set out to humiliate Israel he also ended up shaming and humiliating a lot of Jewish democrats, thus losing his party a whole host of voters in order to settle a highly personal score. The liberal Jews stuck by him through foreign policy-blunders, anti-religious policies, and personal spats with the Israeli leadership. But his ego got the best of him one too many times and now minds are opening to Trump that otherwise would have stayed closed throughout this unexpected presidency. As for Netanyahu, he is much too smart to be outraged over what is expected wording from an obvious source in a document without teeth, and he knows that such obvious biased bullying will do nothing to lessen the strength of the Jewish state, but will only give him a more powerful mandate to act, and to lead.

Obama Kicks Israel on His Way Out the Door

 

Aleppo is crumbling, Libya is in ruins, Russia is threatening its neighbors, and China is militarizing the South China Sea. But the UN is taking action against Israel. And Obama let them:

The U.N. Security Council on Friday passed a resolution demanding Israel cease Jewish settlement activity on Palestinian territory in a unanimous vote that passed when the United States abstained rather than using its veto as it has reliably done in the past.

The resolution declares settlements constructed on land Israel has occupied since the 1967 war, including East Jerusalem, have “no legal validity.” It said settlements threaten the viability of the two-state solution, and it urged Israelis and Palestinians to return to negotiations that lead to two independent nations.

Syria Is at a Tipping Point, and So Is American Foreign Policy

 

aleppo_bombed_hospitalThe cataclysm in Syria — the atrocities, humanitarian crisis and escalating hostilities — could hardly get worse. But it could. US Syria policy — the moral and strategic errors, deferral to Russia and Iran, and enabling of Assad — could hardly get worse. But it could. Fallout in the region — the opportunities for Iran, Russia, ISIS and other jihadists that the war provides — could hardly get worse. But it could.

The ideas that Russia can be a “partner” in fighting ISIS, that Russia and Iran can play a “constructive role” in the region, and that Syrians can “coexist” with a regime that causes such horrors and devastation are fantasies, already proven wrong. Perpetuating policies based on such delusions would be to knowingly steer American foreign policy even further off course.

From the beginning, the Obama administration indulged dictators, offering to “normalize” relations with the worst of them. Thus, even though Syria was a state sponsor of terror that had backed a brutal puppet government in Lebanon, and caused severe setbacks for American troops by arming and training Iraqi insurgents, the Obama administration reached out. They went so far as to suggest brutal Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad was a “reformer” and to recommend him as “intermediary” in the Middle East peace process.

Member Post

 

On January 6, 2017, the votes submitted by this year’s electoral college will be counted. As we’ve known now for weeks, Faith Spotted Eagle will wind up just 269 electoral votes short of the 270 she needed for the presidency. And also, Donald Trump will assuredly be the 45th president of the United States The […]

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Member Post

 

The Democrats latest foray into disruptive silliness played out Monday at the Electoral College.  I use the term silliness, rather than some other tectonic term, because the Democratic party has ceased to be a party that can, or should be taken seriously in its present state. Leading up to November 8, the Democratic party and its legions of […]

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Obama Press Conference Crushes Progressive Fantasies

 

The fever swamps of the left were eager for Obama’s final press conference of the year. Would the CIA’s leaks about Russian hacking force the President to disrupt the transition? The Electoral College meets Monday — could Obama give them all the intelligence? Would Obama refuse to relinquish power to that borscht-slurping Putin stooge tweeting at 4 a.m. from Trump Tower?

A Study in Contrasts: Obama and Trump on the Death of Fidel

 

fidel-castroPresident Obama issued the following statement:

At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. We know that this moment fills Cubans — in Cuba and in the United States — with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him. 

For nearly six decades, the relationship between the United States and Cuba was marked by discord and profound political disagreements. During my presidency, we have worked hard to put the past behind us, pursuing a future in which the relationship between our two countries is defined not by our differences but by the many things that we share as neighbors and friends — bonds of family, culture, commerce, and common humanity. This engagement includes the contributions of Cuban Americans, who have done so much for our country and who care deeply about their loved ones in Cuba.

Unaffordable Care Act

 

Barack ObamaThe defenders of the Affordable Care Act are running out of excuses for the dismal performance of its health care exchanges. It is now old news that many uninsured individuals are unable, even with sizeable subsidies, to purchase health care coverage from private health care providers. As Yale Professor Jacob Hacker notes in his recent op-ed for the New York Times, the ACA has indeed faced “a rocky six months.” Average anticipated premium increases are running at 25 percent; major insurers like Aetna, UnitedHealth, and Humana have either pulled out of the program entirely or cut back their operations; and one recent tally reports that 16 of the 23 health care co-ops, with over 800,000 enrollees, have shut down, with at least six others on economic life support.

What should be done to respond to this unfortunate situation? The defenders of the ACA want to double-down on the current system by introducing a “public option” that was excluded from the original legislation. President Obama endorsed that position in a communication published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association. After ignoring the problems with the individual health care exchanges, he suggests “Congress should revisit a public plan to compete alongside private insurers in areas of the country where competition is limited. Adding a public plan in such areas would strengthen the Marketplace approach, giving consumers more affordable options while also creating savings for the federal government.” That same line is echoed by Hacker who dismisses any notion that the public option will lead to a single-payer system, by making the tart observation that the wholesale withdrawal of private insurers from the marketplace has already resulted in a single-payer system in the five states whose exchanges will be serviced by only a single ACA provider next year, with the prospect of still more to come.

Unfortunately, President Obama and Professor Hacker, with their public option rescue plan, misunderstand the source of the current difficulties. The key problem is not monopoly power. It is runaway costs brought on by foolish regulations that no public option can cure. If the system is to survive, which is doubtful, it needs to be fundamentally redesigned.

Obama May Sign Israel’s Death Warrant

 

Netanyahu obama israelFor the past eight years, President Obama has insulted, denigrated, criticized and condemned Israel and its leaders. By taking these steps, he has alienated our best Western ally in the Middle East. In his 2015, as the Free Beacon reported, Michael Oren listed the many ways that Obama and his administration damaged the US relationship with Israel.

But it appears that Obama isn’t finished. He may be planning a final blow against Israel as part of his legacy. In his syndicated weekly column in National Review, Charles Krauthammer cites John Hannah of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who believes that Obama may go to the UN to force a two-state solution on Israel. (Hannah’s article is behind a fire wall.)

UNESCO has already tried to deny that the city of Jerusalem belongs to Israel. As Krauthammer says,