One of Dictionary.com's definitions of blackmail is "to extort money from (a person) by use of threats." Substitute "taxpayers" for "person" and you have what the White House and congressional Democrats are doing with the debt ceiling.
In case you weren't paying attention (and too few are) the United States officially reached the debt ceiling on Monday. Treasury Secretary Tim ("I forgot to pay my taxes") Geithner informed Congress of difficult decisions he was forced to make to keep the country solvent, which is a joke. How can a country be considered solvent when just the interest on the debt amounts to more than the entire gross national product of many countries?
This White House, like its predecessors, can take some comfort in the fact that the Middle East has been breaking the hearts of diplomats and foreign politicians for at least 2,000 years. Of course, some centuries have been worse than others (Pontius Pilate had a particularly difficult innings). But in modern times, the American voting public has become accustomed to seeing regular news from the Middle East feature wars, terrorism, mayhem, religious fanaticism and failed peace initiatives.
As a result, few presidents pay much of a price at election time for failing to deliver peace or other conspicuous diplomatic successes from that cradle of civilization and birthplace of the three great religions of the Book. I am certainly not prepared to predict that President Obama will lose many votes in 2012 based on his Middle East policy.
Hear that? It's the escalating cry of American employers and workers trying to hold on to their health care benefits in the age of stifling Obama health insurance mandates: Gangway! Gangway! Save me! Waive me!
Obamacare refugees first began beating down the exit doors in October 2010. As I've documented since last fall, waiver-mania started with McDonald's and Jack in the Box; spread to Dish Networks, hair salon chain Regis Corp and resort giant Universal Orlando; took hold among every major Big Labor organization from the AFL-CIO to the CWA to the SEIU; roped in the nationalized health care promoters at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (whose board of trustees includes health care czar Nancy Ann DeParle); and is now gripping entire states (Maine, New Hampshire and Nevada all recently got in on the act).
The latest to catch the waive? West Coast liberals.
The liberal vision of government is easily understood and makes perfect sense if one acknowledges their misunderstanding and implied assumptions about the sources of income. Their vision helps explain the language they use and policies they support, such as income redistribution and calls for the rich to give something back.
Suppose the true source of income was a gigantic pile of money meant to be shared equally amongst Americans. The reason some people have more money than others is because they got to the pile first and greedily took an unfair share. That being the case, justice requires that the rich give something back, and if they won't do so voluntarily, Congress should confiscate their ill-gotten gains and return them to their rightful owners.
As much as CNN likes to tell the public and advertisers that it’s squarely in the sensible center between the partisan attacks of MSNBC and Fox News, the reality says otherwise. Even if CNN has no Screaming Schultzes or Crazy Larry O’Donnell types, it’s still firmly in the Democratic sphere of influence.
On his show “In The Arena” on May 12, CNN host Eliot Spitzer recounted how a story in The New York Times “brought a smile to my face. It said the president of the United States calls you for wisdom and advice about issues around the world. So first, when he calls you, what does he say? Hi, Barack calling for Fareed? What does he do?”
His guest Zakaria replied, “Mostly it's been face-to-face meetings. You know, usually organized by Tom Donilon, the national security adviser,” and it’s been a “very thoughtful conversation.” (That certainly compliments both sides of the chat.) Spitzer then added “I’m not going to ask you what you have said to the president but it makes my heart warm that the president is calling you for wisdom and advice.”
I think people are missing the main point of Obamacare's alleged "death panels": Obama has forfeited any claim to moral authority in pursuit of his so-called health care reform.
It is indisputable that the thrust of Obama's push for Obamacare was that too many Americans were being denied access to medical care, and that health care "should be a right for every American." He obviously believes insurance companies let his mother die in refusing to cover her medical bills because of her pre-existing condition.
Last week, President Obama came to my home state of Texas calling for immigration reform. He should have also rallied citizens for tort reform, which is a hot issue right now around the country and in Texas politics in particular.
I've deferred (or better, repackaged) Part 2 of my article on bullies to oppose some real-life legal bullies — those sue-happy individuals (serial litigants) who tie up and abuse our court systems and civil rights to oppress and take from their victims (defendants).
Politicians and political activists frequently declare the end of the world will occur if their candidate isn't elected, or if the debt ceiling isn't raised. Some conservative Christians think the end is on the way because of behavior and practices they judge immoral. Somehow the country, not to mention the planet, survives and when "doomsday" passes, the prognosticators live to predict Armageddon on another day.
Now comes radio preacher Harold Camping, the nearly-90-year-old owner of a network of stations he calls "Family Radio." Camping once belonged to a traditional church. He then decided all churches are corrupt and people should leave whatever congregation they're in and listen only to him because only his interpretation of Scripture is true. I believe that is one characteristic of a cult.
If you listen to the passengers and crew who flew on American Airlines Flight 1561 last weekend, there's no doubt about what happened on their harrowing trip: A Yemeni man shrieking "Allahu akbar!" at the top of his lungs more than 30 times rushed the cockpit door twice intending to take down the plane and kill everyone on board.
The clammy, sweaty lone male passenger exhibited classic symptoms of what Middle East scholar and author Daniel Pipes has dubbed "Sudden Jihad Syndrome" — a seemingly random outbreak of threatening behavior or violence by a hysterical Muslim adherent who had not previously exhibited signs of Islamic radicalization. It took at least four men to tackle and restrain Rageh Ahmed Mohammed al-Murisi. "There was no question in everybody's mind that he was going to do something," passenger Angelina Marty told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Can you imagine how insufferable President Obama would be about his record in office if he actually had abundant positive accomplishments? Have we ever seen a starker contrast between a politician's record and his self-assessment of it?
It's not as though the president just avoids or downplays his failures. It's more like he showcases them, but only after completely revising history to put his actions in a favorable light.
"I heard someone say yesterday that the last years had been completely wasted as far as he was concerned. I'm very glad that I have never yet had that feeling, even for a moment," Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in April of 1944.
Horrified by the Nazi treatment of Jews, the German Lutheran pastor would join the conspiracy against Hitler and ultimately be hanged in a prison camp the next year.
The Obamas want credit for bringing American culture to the White House. When they decided to celebrate poetry at the White House on May 10, it was really not a surprise they would try to make it socially "relevant" by inviting a rap music "artist" to unload some rhymes.
The rapper goes by the name "Common" (real name: Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr.). He is celebrated by many on the left as a "socially conscious" street poet. But that's not the way it was seen by cops in New Jersey. ABC reporter Jake Tapper blogged that Dave Jones, president of the New Jersey State Trooper Fraternal Association, was contacted by the White House about trooper objections. Obama officials claimed they had never heard of Joanne Chesimard (who renamed herself Assata Shakur), a woman Common celebrated in "song."
It seems to me that our government had vastly more intelligence on what was going on in Obama bin Laden's ghastly hideout before sending SEAL Team 6 in last week than they are telling us. President Barack Obama told CBS that the odds in favor of bin Laden being in the compound were "at best" 55 percent. My guess is that they were closer to 100 percent.
We know that from satellites overhead, our intelligence officers thought they had bin Laden spotted in the complex. A man that they concluded was bin Laden was seen pacing regularly inside the compound grounds. Called "The Pacer," he was tall, and they figured he might very well be the 6 foot 4 terror leader. So the order was sent to our SEAL team to go in.
Robert Woodson would probably wince if you called him a "community organizer." That's because for the last 30 years as president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, he has not spent time organizing the poor around ineffective government programs and other addictions he has been helping them become self-sufficient.
"You can't learn anything by studying failure," he says. "If you want to learn anything, you must study the successful."
The public relations campaign for President Obama's latest revival of "immigration reform" makes one thing crystal clear: This is not, and never has been, about homeland security. This is not, and never has been, about economic security. It's about political security, plain and cynical.
In conjunction with Tuesday's renewed White House push in Texas for a "new pathway to citizenship" for millions of illegal immigrants, disgruntled Latino activists are ratcheting up their radical anti-enforcement rhetoric. Illinois Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez — a persistent critic on Obama's left flank — lambasted federal workplace enforcement raids this weekend. On Sunday, he repeated his hyperbolic attacks on homeland security agents "terrorizing" neighborhoods and ripping babies from the breasts of nursing moms. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano made no public effort to defend her employees.
There is a particular media conceit that, in the garb of purported impeccable disclosure, is in fact a license for news sources to market talking points.
A hilarious example of the breed can be found in an article by Anne E. Kornblut in the Sunday Washington Post. The article is about the White House's intended use of the bin Laden event and is titled "Bin Laden raid fits into Obama's 'big things' message."
Here's a safe prediction: The "bipartisan" group of congressmen led by Vice President Joe Biden will fail to solve the $14 trillion debt crisis.
Here's another prediction: The Heritage Foundation (www.heritage.org/) has developed a formula, made possible by a grant from The Peterson Foundation (www.pgpf.org/), that could balance the budget in 10 years, reduce the debt to 30 percent of gross domestic product within 25 years, cut the size of the federal government in half by 2036, reform the tax code, restructure Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, while protecting the most vulnerable, and not increasing taxes if -- and it is a very big if -- politicians prefer the solution to continued bickering.
As much as liberals complain about conservative “misinformation”and incivility, they never seem to find it on channels like MSNBC, and we know there are small bands of liberals that wander over there. While many were watching the first GOP presidential debate on May 5, Ed Schultz invited on left-wing bomb-thrower (and 2010 congressional-seat loser) Alan Grayson to heap mud on George W. Bush.
Schultz asked if Bush failed to accept Obama’s invitation to Ground Zero out of personal pique. Grayson replied through a smirk, “I suspect that President Bush might've been passed-out drunk for the last three or four days, so I’m not sure he made any conscious decision at all.” Schultz found that acceptable. “Great to have you with us tonight,” he said to Grayson at interview’s end. “Thank you for your take.”
As if more proof were needed about the minimum wage's devastating effects, yet another study has reached the same conclusion. Last week, two labor economists, Professors William Even (Miami University of Ohio) and David Macpherson (Trinity University), released a study for the Washington, D.C.-based Employment Policies Institute titled "Unequal Harm: Racial Disparities in the Employment Consequences of Minimum Wage Increases."
During the peak of what has been dubbed the Great Recession, the unemployment rate for young adults (16 to 24 years of age) as a whole rose to above 27 percent. The unemployment rate for black young adults was almost 50 percent, but for young black males, it was 55 percent.
The Washington Examiner reports that it's been 768 days since the Democratic-controlled Senate passed a budget. What's the big deal? It's not like the nation is facing financial difficulties or anything.
I realize it's convenient for President Obama to pretend he's a bystander on fiscal matters when it suits him and to pass the buck that never stops with him back to Congress, but how about a little leadership on the issue for a change?
The official White House account of Osama bin Laden's demise has seen more slapdash cosmetic surgery over the past week than your average "Real Housewives" reality-show star. President Obama's allies attribute the bungled "narrative" (their word, not mine) to the "Fog of War." But each passing day — and each new set of hapless revisions — shows that what really ails the administration is the Fog of Fog.
Errors happen. Miscommunications happen. Confusing the name of which of bin Laden's myriad sons died (Hamza, not Khalid), for example, is no biggie.
I was about 10 years old. Unfortunately, many kids can't protect themselves like I once did. Even worse, so much bullying today has turned to torment. Yesteryear's boyhood brawls have transformed into today's torture.
It's a new day in which social networks have created cyber-bullying. Why harass a kid in a school hall with a handful of kids when one can use Facebook and YouTube to bully him or her repeatedly in full view of the whole world? In so doing, the public damage and consequences are instantly and exponentially escalated.
I in my innocence was, in the aftermath of SEAL Team Six's disruption of Osama bin Laden's bucolic life in posh Abbottabad, reading editorial comment by the great newspapers of this republic. As always, the Wall Street Journal was superb, pausing to congratulate President Barack Obama for "ordering a special forces mission rather than settling for another attack with drones or stand-off weapons from afar."
The Washington Post was, likewise, informative and appreciative of the president's prudent decision to let SEAL Team Six do its thing, skirting the laws of a sovereign nation and acting unilaterally to put a bullet hole in Osama's head.
In New York City, 41 percent of babies are aborted.
It's even worse than that, actually.
As the Chiaroscuro Foundation, a group that supports abortion alternatives, has pointed out: "Sixty percent of African-American pregnancies in New York City were aborted in 2009, the most recent year for which data is available. In a 10-year period beginning in 2000, more than 900,000 pregnancies in the city ended in abortion -- nearly one-eighth of the entire city population of just over 8 million."
Abortion, of course, is a hot-button word, bringing up all kinds of emotions in all kinds of people.
First quarter profits for American oil companies are jaw dropping. Exxon earned nearly $11 billion, up 69 percent from a year ago. Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Europe's largest oil company, announced it made $8.78 billion in the first quarter, a 60 percent increase over last year. Much of it, but not all, is due to higher gas prices, over which the companies have very little control due to our heavy reliance on foreign oil.
Some in Congress -- mostly Democrats, but a few Republicans -- are calling for an end to tax breaks enjoyed by the oil companies and in some cases, higher taxes on their profits. But the Obama administration is contributing to higher energy prices, which inflate the companies' bottom line.
In the words of that great American philosopher, Larry The Cable Guy, “WE GOT-R-DONE”!!!
Osama bin Laden sleeps with the fishes, and the best military on the planet has kept a promise President George W. Bush made to the American people almost a decade ago. He said, “I don’t know if it will be tomorrow, or next month, or next year, but we will get him.”
It’s inevitable that the joy and national unity over the killing of that monster bin Laden would cool. Already we’re debating the journalistic and political ramifications. On Wednesday, President Obama told CBS he wouldn’t “spike the football” by releasing photos proving Osama is dead.
I agree with the President, as much as that pains my friend Sean Hannity and other conservatives (and non-conservatives like Juan Williams). Some argue that it will put to rest any conspiracy theories that this is but a hoax. No it won’t. Let’s go back to the American killing of Saddam Hussein’s sons Uday and Qusay in 2003. To deal with the paranoia and disbelief of Iraqis, the military allowed access to the bodies...after they did facial reconstructions to make the sons look more like they did before their faces were shot off. Guess what? None of that helped with many Iraqis, who continued to express skepticism. The failure of the Hussein sons to reappear (and now Osama) should be proof for the doubters, not so for fanatics. Before he had birthers; now we’ll have deathers.
Here's a non-rocket science question: If you expect a reduced harvest of wheat, corn, rice or any other commodity some time in the future, what would be the wise thing to do about your consumption today? I bet that the average person would answer: Consume less now so that more will be available in the future.
But how in the world can people be encouraged to consume less now? Enter the futures market, which consists of a worldwide group of millions upon millions of traders, often called speculators. Speculators, betting on a future shortage, buy up wheat, corn and rice today in the hopes of making money selling it for a higher price when the bad harvest hits. As speculators buy more and more wheat, corn and rice, they drive up today's prices. As today's price gets higher, people consume less, but more importantly, people do the intelligent thing without bureaucratic edicts. The vital role of the futures trader, or speculator, is to allocate goods over different time periods. And, it's not just wheat, corn and rice that must be allocated over time but all commodities including oil.
In the spirit of post-bin Laden peace, love and harmony, President Obama has asked all Americans to "harness" national good will and stand together. The commander in chief could practice what he preaches — by inviting President Bush to stand with him at Ground Zero in New York City on Thursday.
It would be an extraordinary — dare I say "unprecedented," to borrow one of Obama's favorite words — act of political maturity, good faith and transcendent unity against our common jihadi enemies.
Last night, some reported that Obama had invited Bush — who declined. If that's true, Dubya needs to change his mind — for America's sake.