The agency’s response to a freedom of information request submitted by The Wall Street Journal doesn’t exclude the possibility that recordings could have been created by another entity.
In recent days, the two men have offered differing accounts of whether Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey in private conversations within the White House complex to ease off the FBI’s probe of former national security adviser Mike Flynn.
On Friday, Mr. Trump kept the tapes mystery alive, telling reporters in the White House Rose Garden, “I’ll tell you about that maybe sometime in the very near future.” He added, “Oh, you’re going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer, don’t worry.” Read the rest of this entry »
Trump’s Foreign-Policy Revolution
His intimations of a new American isolationism are heard in capitals around the world.
Charles Krauthammer writes: The flurry of bold executive orders and of highly provocative Cabinet nominations (such as a secretary of education who actually believes in school choice) has been encouraging to conservative skeptics of Donald Trump. But it shouldn’t erase the troubling memory of one major element of Trump’s inaugural address.
“For 70 years, we sustained an international system of open commerce and democratic alliances that has enabled America and the West to grow and thrive. Global leadership is what made America great. We abandon it at our peril.”
The foreign-policy section has received far less attention than so revolutionary a declaration deserved. It radically redefined the American national interest as understood since World War II.
“Trump outlined a world in which foreign relations are collapsed into a zero-sum game. They gain, we lose.”
Trump outlined a world in which foreign relations are collapsed into a zero-sum game. They gain, we lose. As in: “For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries” while depleting our own. And most provocatively, this: “The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world.”
“Imagine how this resonates abroad. ‘America First’ was the name of the organization led by Charles Lindbergh that bitterly fought FDR before U.S. entry into World War II — right through the Battle of Britain — to keep America neutral between Churchill’s Britain and Hitler’s Reich.”
JFK’s inaugural pledged to support any friend and oppose any foe to assure the success of liberty. Note that Trump makes no distinction between friend and foe (and no reference to liberty). They’re all out to use, exploit, and surpass us.
[Read the full story here, at National Review]
No more, declared Trump: “From this day forward, it’s going to be only America First.”
Imagine how this resonates abroad. “America First” was the name of the organization led by Charles Lindbergh that bitterly fought FDR before U.S. entry into World War II — right through the Battle of Britain — to keep America neutral between Churchill’s Britain and Hitler’s Reich.
Read the rest of this entry »
HONOLULU — Hiroshi Tajima and Mai Fukuda report: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe laid flowers for American soldiers, including those killed in Japan’s 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, at a cemetery in Hawaii on Monday, the day before his scheduled visit to the harbor with U.S. President Barack Obama.
After arriving on the island of Oahu in the morning, Abe visited the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, in which remains of about 50,000 officers and soldiers — including those who lost their lives during the attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy — are buried.
The prime minister offered flowers and a moment of silence, before signing his name in a visitors’ book.
At the facility, Abe also laid flowers at the grave of U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, who had worked hard to promote the U.S.-Japan relationship until his death in December 2012.
The prime minister then visited a Japanese cemetery in Honolulu’s Makiki district, which houses a memorial for Japanese emigrants to Hawaii and soldiers killed at Pearl Harbor.
Abe showed his determination not to fight a war again by praying for both Japanese and American war dead. Read the rest of this entry »
Leftist politicians supposed that ordinary voters with modest incomes facing hard times would believe that regulation and redistribution would help them. Evidently most don’t.
Michael Barone writes: It’s been a tough decade for the political left. Eight years ago a Time magazine cover portrayed Barack Obama as Franklin Roosevelt, complete with cigarette and holder and a cover line proclaiming “The New New Deal.” A Newsweek cover announced “We Are All Socialists Now.”
Now the cover story is different. Time has just announced, inevitably though a bit begrudgingly, that its Person of the Year for 2016 is Donald Trump. No mention of New Deals or socialism.
It’s not surprising that newsmagazine editors expected a move to the left. The history they’d been taught by New Deal admirers, influenced by the doctrines of Karl Marx, was that economic distress moves voters to demand a larger and more active government.
There was some empirical evidence in that direction as well. The recession triggered by the financial crisis of 2007-08 was the deepest experienced by anyone not old enough to remember the 1930s. Barack Obama waselected with 53 percent of the popular vote—more than any candidate since the 1980s—and Democrats had won congressional elections with similar majorities in 2006 and 2008.
“The United States Constitution was designed to provide a framework in which rights are guaranteed and voters in states can choose policies in line with their different backgrounds and beliefs.”
Things look different now, and not just because Donald Trump was elected president. It has been clear that most voters have been rejecting big government policies, and not just in the United States but in most democratic nations around the world.
Leftist politicians supposed that ordinary voters with mdest incomes facing hard times would believe that regulation and redistribution would help them. Evidently most don’t.
The rejection was apparent in the 2010 and subsequent House elections; Republicans have now won House majorities in ten of the last 12 elections, leaving 2006 and 2008 as temporary aberrations.
“The nation-state remains the focus of most peoples’ loyalties, and in a time of economic and cultural diffusion, as Yuval Levin argues in his recent book ‘The Fractured Republic’, big government policies designed for an age of centralization have become increasingly dysfunctional.”
You didn’t hear Hillary Clinton campaign on the glories of Obamacare or the Iran nuclear deal, and her attack on “Trumped-up, trickle-down economics” didn’t strike any chords in the modest-income Midwest.
Republican success has been even greater in governor and state legislature elections, to the point that Democrats hold governorships and legislative control only in California, Hawaii, Delaware and Rhode Island. After eight years of the Obama presidency, Democrats hold fewer elective offices than at any time since the 1920s. Read the rest of this entry »
It was previously thought that Abe was not inclined to visit Pearl Harbor. In the process of arranging Obama’s visit to Hiroshima, the U.S. State Department communicated secretly with Japan about the possibility of Abe visiting Pearl Harbor. However, the Japanese side declined. The prime minister apparently thought his visit would have a negative impact on Japan-U.S. relations because the focus would be on whether or not an apology would be made during the visit and historical arguments would resurface.
Hiroshi Tajima and Satoshi Ogawa report: Minister Shinzo Abe’s planned visit to Pearl Harbor later this month is based on his decision to demonstrate a mature and future-oriented Japan-U.S. alliance to the world. The prime minister announced Monday night that he will visit Hawaii on Dec. 26 and 27, and visit Pearl Harbor with U.S. President Barack Obama during the Hawaii stay.
“I have long thought of demonstrating the significance and symbolism of visiting Pearl Harbor and the importance of reconciliation.”
— Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
The visit with Obama — following the U.S. president’s visit to Hiroshima in May — will be a historic event to symbolize Japan-U.S. reconciliation, as the leaders of the two countries that fought fiercely against each other in World War II will have paid their respects to victims of the war on those occasions.
“I have long thought of demonstrating the significance and symbolism of visiting Pearl Harbor and the importance of reconciliation,” Abe told reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday night.
Pearl Harbor is a significant place in Japan-U.S. history along with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On Dec. 7, 1941 (Dec. 8 Japan time), the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor and sank and damaged eight U.S. battleships, including the USS Arizona. Americans fought World War II with the phrase “Remember Pearl Harbor” in their minds.
The day after the attack, then U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt described the day of the attack as “a date which will live in infamy” in a speech at a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
At the same place Roosevelt made the speech, the prime minister delivered a speech in April last year and said: “History is harsh. What is done cannot be undone,” naming locations of battles such as Pearl Harbor and Bataan and Corregidor in the Philippines.
With this, the prime minister expressed “deep repentance” in a speech that drew standing ovations from U.S. lawmakers and symbolized Japan-U.S. reconciliation.
…We’re also moving Utah — yes, Utah! — from “lean Republican” to “toss-up” as independent candidate Evan McMullin, a Utah native and Mormon, continues to show considerable polling resiliency in the Beehive State. Count us as skeptical that Clinton can win in such a Republican state. But McMullin is taking lots of Republican voters away from Trump, and it’s not out of the question that the third party candidate could win the state’s six electoral votes.
And, finally — and much to our amazement — we are adding Texas to our list of competitive states, rating it as “lean Republican.” The last three polls taken in the state have shown Trump ahead by three points (twice) and four points; the Real Clear Politics polling average in the state puts Trump up 4.6 points. It speaks to how badly Trump is performing even in longtime Republican strongholds that the debate going forward won’t be whether Texas should stay on the list of competitive races but whether it should move to “toss-up.”
Those changes tilt the electoral map — and math — even more heavily toward Clinton. Clinton now has 323 electoral votes either solidly for her or leaning her way. Trump has just 180. (Reminder: You need 270 to win.) And, virtually all of the vulnerability from here until Nov. 8 is on Trump’s side. Arizona and Utah, two states that haven’t voted for a Democratic presidential nominee since 1996 and 1964, respectively, are toss-ups! Texas, the one large-population state that has long been considered solidly Republican, is within mid-single digits! States like Colorado and Virginia — swing states in the past two elections — aren’t even real opportunities for Trump anymore! Read the rest of this entry »
“Look, the fact that the President goes way out of his way, for seven and a half years, to avoid the phrase that is obviously the most descriptive of the enemy, radical Islam, means he’s doing it for a purpose.”
“He pretends and says well, it’s a magical phrase. … I think the President said, calling it a threat by a different name doesn’t make it go away. Of course it doesn’t! Nobody implies it does.”
“But deliberately calling it something meaningless: ‘violent extremism’ is a completely empty phrase. No one has ever strapped on a suicide vest in the name of extremism; nobody dies in the name of extremism.”
“Obama is deliberately trying to deny, or to hide, or to disguise, the connection between all of these disparate acts and groups, and if you want to mobilize a country behind you, you need to tell them who the enemy is and why it’s doing what it is.” Read the rest of this entry »
Political establishment denounced bourgeois Tea Party. Now, they must face raucous working-class Trumpsters.
“Brooks is, of course, horrified at Trump and his supporters, whom he finds childish, thuggish and contemptuous of the things that David Brooks likes about today’s America.”
Glenn Harlan Reynold writes: Last week, in assessing the rise of Donald Trump, New York Times columnist David Brooks engaged in an uncharacteristic bit of self-reflection:
“Trump voters,” he wrote, “are a coalition of the dispossessed. They have suffered lost jobs, lost wages, lost dreams. The American system is not working for them, so naturally they are looking for something else. Moreover, many in the media, especially me, did not understand how they would express their alienation. We expected Trump to fizzle because we were not socially intermingled with his supporters and did not listen carefully enough. For me, it’s a lesson that I have to change the way I do my job if I’m going to report accurately on this country.” (Emphasis added.)
“When politeness and orderliness are met with contempt and betrayal, do not be surprised if the response is something less polite, and less orderly.”
Well, it’s a lesson for a lot of people in the punditocracy, of whom Brooks — who famously endorsed Barack Obama after viewing his sharply creased pants — is just one. And if Brooks et al. had paid attention, the roots of the Trump phenomenon wouldn’t have been so difficult to fathom.
Brooks is, of course, horrified at Trump and his supporters, whom he finds childish, thuggish and contemptuous of the things that David Brooks likes about today’s America. It’s clear that he’d like a social/political revolution that was more refined, better-mannered, more focused on the Constitution and, well, more bourgeois as opposed to in-your-face and working class.
The thing is, we had that movement. It was the Tea Party movement. Unlike Brooks, I actually ventured out to “intermingle” with Tea Partiers at various events that I covered for PJTV.com, contributing commentary to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Examiner. As I reported from one event in Nashville, “Pundits claim the tea partiers are angry — and they are — but the most striking thing about the atmosphere in Nashville was how cheerful everyone seemed to be. I spoke with dozens of people, and the responses were surprisingly similar. Hardly any had ever been involved in politics before. Having gotten started, they were finding it to be not just worthwhile, but actually fun. Laughter rang out frequently, and when new-media mogul Andrew Breitbart held forth on a TV interview, a crowd gathered and broke into spontaneous applause. A year ago (2009), many told me, they were depressed about the future of America. Watching television pundits talk about President Obama’s transformative plans for big government, they felt alone, isolated and helpless. That changed when protests, organized by bloggers, met Mr. Obama a year ago in Denver, Colo., Mesa, Ariz., and Seattle, Wash. Then came CNBC talker Rick Santelli’s famous on-air rant on Feb. 19, 2009, which gave the tea-party movement its name. Tea partiers are still angry at federal deficits, at Washington’s habit of rewarding failure with handouts and punishing success with taxes and regulation, and the general incompetence that has marked the first year of the Obama presidency. But they’re no longer depressed.” Read the rest of this entry »
Narcissist-in-Chief Honors Himself in Hiroshima, Japan
John Bolton writes: An American president’s highest moral, constitutional and political duty is protecting his fellow citizens from foreign threats. Presidents should adhere to our values and the Constitution, and not treat America’s enemies as morally equivalent to us.
If they do, they need not apologize to anyone.
The White House says that President Obama won’t apologize as he visits Hiroshima Friday. But who believes his press flacks?
“Obama’s narcissism, his zeal for photo opportunities with him at the center, whether in Havana or Hiroshima, too often overcomes lesser concerns — like the best interests of the country.”
His penchant for apologizing is central to his legacy. He may not often say “I apologize” explicitly, but his meaning is always clear, especially since he often bends his knee overseas, where he knows the foreign audiences will get his meaning. It is, in fact, Obama’s subtlety that makes his effort to reduce America’s influence in the world so dangerous.
He started in Cairo in 2009, referring to the “fear and anger” that the 9/11 attacks provoked in Americans, saying that, “in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals.” He later said, “Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions . . . based on fear rather than foresight” — a characterization Americans overwhelmingly reject.
In Europe, saved three times by America in the last century, Obama apologized because “there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.” And in this hemisphere, Obama said, “We have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms,” culminating in his recent fawning visits with the Castros in Cuba.
The list goes on and on.
Then there’s his penchant for bowing to foreign leaders. He has bowed to the king of Saudi Arabia. He bowed to the emperor of Japan on a previous visit. He has bowed to China’s leader, Xi Jinping. And these are not casual nods of the head, but unmistakable gestures of obeisance. Read the rest of this entry »
The White House rammed through an agenda that could be quickly undone by a Republican president.
Phil Gramm and Michael Solon write: President Obama seems to aspire to join Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan as one of the three most transformative presidents of the past hundred years, and by all outward signs he has achieved that goal. But while Roosevelt and Reagan sold their programs to the American people and enacted them with bipartisan support, Mr. Obama jammed his partisan agenda down the public’s throat. The Obama legacy is built on executive orders, regulations and agency actions that can be overturned using the same authority Mr. Obama employed to put them in place.
“If the new president proves as committed to overturning these regulations as Mr. Obama was to implementing them, these rules could be amended or overturned. And because Senate Democrats “nuked” the right of the minority to filibuster administration nominees, the new president’s appointees could not be blocked by Democrats if Republicans retain control of the Senate.”
An array of President Obama’s policies—changing immigration law, blocking the Keystone XL pipeline, the Iranian nuclear agreement and the normalization of relations with Cuba, among others—were implemented exclusively through executive action.
Because any president is free “to revoke, modify or supersede his own orders or those issued by a predecessor,” as the Congressional Research Service puts it, a Republican president could overturn every Obama executive action the moment after taking the oath of office.
“To accelerate this process, the new president should name cabinet and agency appointees before the 115th Congress begins. He could declare an economic emergency and ask the agencies to initiate the rule-making process promptly. On the first day in the Oval Office the president could order federal agencies to halt consideration of all pending regulations—precisely as President Obama did.”
At the beginning of the inaugural address, the new president could sign an executive order rescinding all of Mr. Obama’s executive orders deemed harmful to economic growth or constitutionally suspect. The new president could then establish a blue-ribbon commission to review all other Obama executive orders. Any order not reissued or amended in 60 days could be automatically rescinded.
“The Affordable Care Act also grants substantial flexibility in its implementation, a feature Mr. Obama has repeatedly exploited. The new president could suspend penalties for individuals and employers, enforce income-verification requirements, ease the premium shock on young enrollees by adjusting the community rating system, allow different pricing structures inside the exchanges and alter provider compensation.”
Then there’s the trove of regulations used largely to push through policies that could have never passed Congress. For example, when President Obama in 2010 couldn’t ram through his climate-change legislation in a Democratic
Senate, he used decades-old regulatory authority to inflict the green agenda on power plants and the auto industry.
“These actions could begin dismantling the most pernicious parts of ObamaCare and prevent its roots from deepening as Congress debates its repeal and replacement.”
This is far from the only example: Labor Department rules on fiduciary standards; the National Labor Relations Board’s ruling that franchisees are joint employers; the Environmental Protection Agency’s power grab over water ways; the Federal Communications Commission’s attempt to regulate the Internet as a 1930s telephone monopoly. All are illustrations of how President Obama has used rule-making not to carry out congressional intent but to circumvent it. Read the rest of this entry »
Are we conservative? It’s a question worth asking.
Christopher Bedford writes: When the biggest-drawing presidential candidate is a socialist, when the Republican front-runner is a reality TV star, it’s worth wondering if we ever really were. We: The Americans.
“So two months before John F. Kennedy would defeat Richard M. Nixon, 90 or so young men and women gathered at the Sharon, Connecticut estate of their young leader, William F. Buckley, to declare, ‘In this time of moral and political crises, it is the responsibility of the youth of America to affirm certain eternal truths.'”
Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan. These men bestrode 20th century politics, each standing for largely different things. So how could sound political conservatism be the reason for Mr. Reagan’s popularity when Messrs. Roosevelts each represent its rejection?
“The ‘certain eternal truths’ that followed were the most succinct explanation of American political conservatism since the Bill of Rights — and remain so today.”
Maybe the real reason all three ascended wasn’t necessarily their ideas, but how they made Americans feel in their moment of crisis.
“Fifty five years after Sharon, the things we stood for remain much the same. So make your case to America, conservatives. Now as much as ever.”
In our moment of crisis, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump seem to have harnessed something similar: A populism, which drawing its power from the industrialists, the Depression, the Malaise, the illegals or the bankers, has captivated the people.
All populists respond to the peculiar interests of their times, but beyond his ascension, Mr. Reagan was right for his. And his ideas — our ideas — are right for now.
Because populism being popular doesn’t mean right-thinking isn’t the solution, any more than eight disastrous years under this White House do. Thinkers from Thomas Aquinas to Edmund Burke flourished because they — their ideas, their values, their civilizations — were in grave danger, and long since, we’ve trudged through dark days to build the greatest civilization the world has ever seen.
It’s likely that America isn’t necessarily conservative now any more than it was in the days of Roosevelts or Reagans, but before the Republican Party — led astray by a quarter century of Bush Republicanism — settles for an easy, gut-level populism, remember that conservatives have had the solution in the past. And have those solutions still. Read the rest of this entry »
Li Aimin, a 63-year-old farmer from Shandong Province, spent a year sculpting the portraits of Chairman Mao Zedong and various war heroes on eggs to commemorate the 70th anniversary of victory of World War Two.
Li sculpted Chairman Mao on the sides of eggs with more than 20 different kinds of emotions and 249 Chinese founding military officers with clear details of their facial expressions like smiles or serious expressions.
Li is a talented farmer with strong artistic sense, according to a report by Qilu Evening News. In four years, he has engraved more than 1,000 eggs, with everything from plants to animals.
Li has worked as a farmer his entire life, but spends all of his spare time working on his sculptures. He expects to exhibit all of his special egg shell sculptures during the Victory Day.
Why Words Matter For Defending Freedom
Frank J. Rocca writes: In a free society, communication is a fundamental necessity if citizens are to guard against encroachments upon their freedom. But over the past hundred years, and especially in recent decades, political philosophers and their pragmatic goons, the politicians, have often deliberately if gradually subverted the meanings of certain key words in our language that are vital to discourse.
“The real meaning of freedom is the lack of restriction; therefore, a ‘freedom’ that gives something to someone cannot exist.”
They do this for the express purpose of changing the understanding of those concepts, and thus to fool people into believing what they want people to believe, not the truth, but a semblance of it, which is wholly or partially false.
“We can’t talk to each other if the words we’re using mean different things.”
The disintegration of language is sometimes treated as a curiosity or overlooked. But the danger of this corruption is serious, because language must be stable to ensure the exchange of comprehensible ideas.
“Freedom from prejudice does not exist, either, because such ‘freedom’ restricts the right of people to think or feel however they wish, regardless of others’ feelings. So long as no one acts on his or her prejudice by violating another person’s rights, there can be no violation of anyone’s freedom.”
Politicians gladly use corrupt language to confuse the truth, enabling them to promote ideas and ultimately to enact laws that would be otherwise unpalatable to voters if they were understood. Consequently, taxes become “contributions” and illegal aliens become “undocumented immigrants” or “new Americans.”
“Franklin Delano Roosevelt arrogantly proclaimed and presumed to guarantee to Americans what he called the Four Freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion and worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.”
But power players must corrupt language gradually so alert citizens who enjoy truth more than anything do not notice too much. The more important the concept, the greater the subtlety of its corruption.
Indeed, the corruption of the most vital concepts must be done with such sly stealth as to nearly unnoticed, thus sowing confusion into the debate and encouraging needless time-wasting arguing over fundamentals. In this way, actual changes to society can be made apace without objection because the changes will go almost unnoticed.
“The first two were already and continue to be guaranteed, not by Roosevelt, but by our founding documents, The Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Together these constitute the irrevocable guarantee that our freedoms, as individuals, are unalienable, because they were not given to us by government but by the very act of our creation as human beings.”
Corrupting the Meaning of Freedom
The most damaging of these conceptual changes is the corruption of the term “freedom.” Clearly and simply defined, freedom and liberty mean the lack of encumbrance. In a free society, the greatest encumbrance is the power to restrict freedom, which only government can do. Read the rest of this entry »
Stephen F. Knott Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew announced Thursday that Alexander Hamilton would be joined on the ten-dollar-bill by a woman to be named later, or perhaps relegated to appearing on some bills but not on others. Lew cited bureaucratic imperatives in choosing to ignore calls to remove the anti-paper money, bank-hating, Indian-killer Andrew Jackson from the twenty-dollar-bill, while adding that symbols on currency are a “way for us to honor our past and express our values.”
By downgrading the founder of his own cabinet department, Lew, perhaps with the best of intentions, continued a tradition that has deep roots in his own political party. From the moment Hamilton was mortally wounded by Vice President Aaron Burr, the Democratic Party has done its best to relegate Hamilton to the ash heap of history. Jackson warmly welcomed Burr to his home as Hamilton’s killer escaped to the west, while Thomas Jefferson’s lieutenants scurried to contain the emotional impact of Hamilton’s death from damaging their party’s political prospects. Jefferson spent considerable time portraying Hamilton as an un-American, pro-British agent intent on importing monarchy and corruption.
Part of the Jeffersonian-Jacksonian contempt for Hamilton stemmed from the fact that Hamilton was an immigrant from the Caribbean, and thus his “Americanism” was constantly questioned. This sense that Hamilton was not “one of us” animates the writings of Jeffersonians and of Jefferson himself, who was appalled that Hamilton did not see eye to eye with him despite having been “received” by Americans and “given . . . bread” and having honors “heaped . . . on his head.”
In the twentieth century, Franklin D. Roosevelt led the effort to elevate Jefferson into the American Pantheon and downgrade Hamilton’s status. Roosevelt saw himself as a Jefferson for the new century, battling forces similar to those that confronted the Sage of Monticello over a century earlier. Roosevelt led the drive for a Jefferson Memorial in Washington and selected the truncated quotes that adorn its walls. Hamilton’s “monument” in Washington consisted of an undersized statue on the back side of the Treasury building in Washington, and to make matters worse, that statue had been erected during the corrupt Harding administration by its privileged Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon. Read the rest of this entry »
NEW YORK (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton formally kicked off her presidential campaign on Saturday with an enthusiastic embrace of her potential to become the first woman to win the White House, asking supporters gathered at an outdoor rally to join her in building an America “where we don’t leave anyone out, or anyone behind.”
With the downtown New York skyline and new World Trade Center over her shoulder, Clinton offered herself as a fierce advocate for those still struggling from the Great Recession.
She promised to carry on the liberal legacies of President Barack Obama, and former Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Bill Clinton, her husband, saying “real and lasting prosperity must be built by all and shared by all.”
While Clinton ended her first campaign for president in 2008 by conceding she and her backers “weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling,” she vowed Saturday to push ahead toward an “America where a father can tell his daughter: Yes, you can be anything you want to be — even president of the United States.”
“I think you know by now that I’ve been called many things by many people,” Clinton said to cheers and laughter from the crowd of roughly 5,500 gathering on Roosevelt Island in the East River. “Quitter is not one of them.” Read the rest of this entry »
Musicians and Kardashians may claim they can break the Internet by posting alluring photographs, but they have nothing on Tom Wheeler
The Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission unveiled on Wednesday a plan to demolish a policy that for two decades has allowed the Internet to become the jewel of world-wide communication and commerce. His new “Open Internet” plan represents a monumental shift from open markets in favor of government control. It is a grave threat to American innovation.
“Mr. Wheeler is seeking to overturn Bill Clinton’s policy of allowing the Internet to grow as a lightly regulated “information service” because Mr. Wheeler does not want light regulation.”
In a piece for Wired magazine, Mr. Wheeler announced that this week he will circulate to his fellow commissioners a plan to enact what President Obama demanded in November: century-old telephone regulation for today’s broadband communications companies.
“In an acrobatic feat of Orwellian logic, Mr. Wheeler even implies that telephone-style regulation must come to the Net to prevent problems that existed in the old telephone network, such as the difficulty faced by entrepreneurs trying to deploy new communications devices.”
“This proposal is rooted in long-standing regulatory principles,” wrote Mr. Wheeler, and he’s right. The game plan is to apply to competitive digital networks rules originally written for monopoly railroads in the 1800s. But don’t worry, this “common carrier” regulatory structure was modernized for telephones as recently as the summer of 1934 when Franklin Roosevelt signed the Communications Act.
“Mr. Wheeler may promise forbearance, but watch out, because that’s not how government works. The nature of bureaucracies is to grab power and expand it. Once the FCC assumes the authority to set “rates, terms and conditions” across the online economy, expect a political land rush.”
The Wheeler cover story is that such antiquated rules are necessary to provide “net neutrality,” the concept that all Internet traffic should be treated equally and not blocked from reaching consumers—in other words, to allow the Internet to function pretty much as it does now. Read the rest of this entry »
The ruthless exercise of power by strongmen and generalissimos is the natural state of human affairs.
That democratic self-governance is a historical anomaly is easy to forget for those of us in the Anglosphere — we haven’t really endured a dictator since Oliver Cromwell. The United States came close, first under Woodrow Wilson and then during the very long presidency of Franklin Roosevelt. Both men were surrounded by advisers who admired various aspects of authoritarian models then fashionable in Europe. Read the rest of this entry »
We can survive cranks, but not a criminal government.
For NRO, Kevin D. Williamson writes: Cliven Bundy’s racial rhetoric is indefensible, and it has inspired a lot of half-bright commentary from the left today directed at your favorite correspondent, mostly variations on this theme: Don’t you feel stupid for having compared him to Mohandas Gandhi?
Short version: No. There is a time to break the law, and the fact that the law is against you does not mean that justice is against you. The law was against Washington and Martin Luther King Jr., too. That does not mean that what is transpiring in Nevada is the American Revolution or the civil-rights movement; it means that there is a time to break the law. As I wrote, “Cliven Bundy may very well be a nut job, but one thing is for sure: The federal government wouldn’t treat a tortoise the way it has treated him.”
Critics on the left, being an ignorant bunch, may be unaware of the fact, but the example of Mohandas Gandhi is here particularly apt, given that the great man had some pretty creepy ideas about everything from race to homosexuality, for example writing that blacks aspired to nothing more than passing their time in “indolence and nakedness,” objecting to blacks’ being housed in Indian neighborhoods, etc. Americans, many of whom seem to believe that Mr. Gandhi’s first name was “Mahatma,” generally confuse the Indian historical figure, a man whose biography contains some complexity, with the relatively straightforward character from the Richard Attenborough movie. We remember Gandhi and admire him because he was right about the thing most closely associated with him. In the same way, there is more to the life of Thomas Jefferson than his having been a slave owner. The question of standing in opposition to a domineering federal government that acts as the absentee landlord for nine-tenths of the state of Nevada is only incidentally related to Cliven Bundy’s having backward views about race. Mr. Bundy’s remarks reflect poorly on the man, not on the issue with which the man is associated. Read the rest of this entry »
PHONE & PEN: This Day in History February 19th 1942: FDR Signs Executive Order Authorizing Japanese Internment CampsPosted: February 19, 2014
On this day in 1942 US President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed executive order 9066 which allowed the military to relocate Japanese-Americans to internment camps. Japanese-Americans were considered a national threat due the attack on Pearl Harbour which prompted the US to join World War Two.
Other groups were also detained, but it was Japanese-Americans who were mostly targeted, with 120,000 being held in camps. In Korematsu v. United States (1944), the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the executive order.
Hollywood’s fine with proselytizing, as long as it’s for the right cause
But all that wasn’t enough. Hearst also believed the voters had to be made to see what could be gained from a president with a free hand. So he financed the film Gabriel Over the White House, starring Walter Huston. The film depicts an FDR look-alike president who, after a coma-inducing car accident, is transformed from a passive Warren Harding type into a hands-on dictator. The reborn commander-in-chief suspends the Constitution, violently wipes out corruption, and revives the economy through a national socialist agenda. When Congress tries to impeach him, he dissolves Congress.
[Amazon has Jonah Goldberg‘s Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, and latest book: The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas]
The Library of Congress summarizes the film nicely. “The good news: He reduces unemployment, lifts the country out of the Depression, battles gangsters and Congress, and brings about world peace. The bad news: He’s Mussolini.”
Margaret Eby reports: Playwright David Mamet, a longtime critic of President Barack Obama, had harsh words for the POTUS on an appearance on “The Hugh Hewitt Show.”
“He’s a tyrant,” Mamet, 65, said. “I give him great credit. He’s always said that his idea was to reform the United States. And, you know, like many tyrants, like Wilson and like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, he believes that his way is the right way and that he’s going to implement his vision of the world, and many agree with him.”
“He’s acting in concert with his conscience. And I applaud him for it,” Mamet continued. “I just disagree with everything he’s done.”
He connected some of his dissent with the current administration with Obama’s foreign policy.
“I’m a Jew,” Mamet said. “I’m for the Jewish people, and I’m an American, and I’m for the West, and I’m for our allies.”
The Old ‘New Left’ Ponders: Hey, Like, Why Aren’t Those New, Millennial Liberals Protesting the Shutdown?Posted: October 1, 2013
MICHAEL KAZIN wonders: Is a new, young left really on the rise? A few weeks ago, Peter Beinart wrote a long online essay which argued strongly in the affirmative. It drew a lot of attention—20,000 “Likes” and almost 5,000 tweets, at last count. And it made a lot of the progressives who read it feel better about politics than at any time since Mitt Romney learned 47 percent was actually the percentage of his popular vote.
Beinart cobbled together an impressive set of poll results to show that Millennials (Americans under 30) swing left on a broad range of issues—from such obvious ones as same-sex marriage, immigration reform, and military intervention abroad to more surprising ones, like favoring labor unions and preferring a bigger welfare state to a smaller and cheaper version. They also embrace the message of Occupy and even prefer socialism to capitalism, although no pollster seems to have asked them to define those famously slippery terms.
Given their views, large numbers of Millennials should be protesting vigorously as the House GOP holds the state and the economy hostage to an agenda straight out of a Rush Limbaugh show. They should be surrounding the Capitol to defend Obamacare and blast the Republicans for denying food stamps to millions of poor people. They should be clogging the phone lines to Congress to announce a grand mobilization to overturn the GOP majority in 2014. It’s our government, they ought to declare. Boehner, Cantor, and their band of militants have no right to bankrupt or shut it down.
Alas, the only Americans who seem upset enough to organize, at least in large enough numbers for the media to notice, belong to the Tea Party—most of whose zealots are old enough to have voted for Ronald Reagan. Where’s that new left when we need it?
Like many pundits, Beinart assumes that decisive shifts in public opinion will result in changes in national policy. He predicts that whomever wins the Democratic nomination in 2016 will have to embrace “youthful, anti-corporate passion” if she or he hopes to win the White House. However, a movement and those politicians who support it need to mobilize the people who share those opinions or their opponents can win the day. A majority of Americans actually hold a positive view of labor unions. But that hasn’t stopped big employers like Wal-Mart and their GOP enablers from blocking attempts to organize workers and increase the minimum wage.
The inertia of progressives—young or old—isn’t hard to explain. Few are enthusiastic about the Affordable Care Act. Read the rest of this entry »
Everyone elected president comes into office modeling himself on some predecessor: Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan. But those who win re-election eventually end up wondering whether they should have emulated James K. Polk instead. Why? Because he promised to serve only one term, and he stuck to it.
Barack Obama is probably reaching that stage about now. Ten months after concluding a victorious campaign, he finds himself with a public approval rating of 44 percent. That’s down 10 points since December — and the same as that of George W. Bush at this point in his presidency. Read the rest of this entry »
The Constitution states that the president “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Not “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed if he feels like it,” which is how the Obama administration apparently reads the provision.
By Mario Loyola
During the presidency of Barack Obama, we’ve learned something about our Constitution that we did not know: The president can simply refuse to enforce whatever laws he doesn’t like. Not as a matter of prosecutorial discretion, mind you, but in general, as to whole categories of people.
First it was DOMA, in a sop to the gay lobby. Then it was the immigration laws, which the president has decided not to enforce against young illegal immigrants. Now it’s the crucial employer-insurance mandate in Obamacare, which is “suspended” for a year, because the president feels like it. I say “crucial” because, absent the employer mandate, the official estimate of how much Obamacare is going to cost, and how it’s going to affect the number of uninsured, is no longer valid.
Employers shouldn’t have to provide health insurance at all. But without it, more people will go on the state insurance exchanges, where their health insurance is subsidized. That subsidy is the single-payer essence of Obamacare. Hence, suspending the employer mandate just brings us one step closer to the single-payer system that liberals wanted all along.
Others are busy fleshing out the vast implications for the nation’s health-care market. But let’s focus on the constitutional implications for a moment.
The Constitution states that the president “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Not “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed if he feels like it,” which is how the Obama administration apparently reads the provision. Rather, he must see that the laws are faithfully executed, period. Otherwise, there’s no point to the veto power. The president can simply decide, by his sole imprimatur, to nullify any law he doesn’t like. “Imprimatur,” incidentally, is at the roots of the words “emperor” and “empire.”
Alas, there is no way to enforce the president’s obligation to see that the laws are faithfully executed. The courts will not issue a mandamus — it is a “political question.” It’s probably not a “crime or misdemeanor” for him to fail to enforce a law, so he probably can’t be impeached for it. The reason presidents have enforced the rule of law is, generally, the people’s expectation that they will. But if the president simply ignores the Constitution, and the people cheer him on (as happened during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt), then where does that leave us?
In the middle of a wide-open Pandora’s box, that’s where.
The Obama administration’s approach to executive power makes a mockery of constitutional process. His supporters appear totally oblivious to the precedent they’ve set, and to how sorry they could be one day.
What if future presidents do exactly the same thing? What if a future president announces that he will no longer enforce any aspect of the Fair Labor Standards Act and that the minimum wage will no longer be enforced? What if a future president decides to stop collecting income taxes on his supporters?
If a conservative president did anything like that, liberals would be crying “Dictatorship!” Yet they cheer when Obama does it. By establishing the precedent that the president can ignore the law whenever it suits him, the Obama administration has struck a grievous blow against the Constitution he is sworn to defend.
How to go from Health and Prosperity, to Consumption, Disability, and a Geyser of Entitlement Spending, in 50 YearsPosted: October 29, 2012
The election-eve mood is tinged with sadness stemming from well-founded fear that America’s new government is subverting America’s old character. Barack Obama’s agenda is a menu of temptations intended to change the nation’s social norms by making Americans comfortable with the degradation of democracy. This degradation consists of piling up public debt that binds unconsenting future generations to finance current consumption.
“In 1960,” Eberstadt says, “roughly 134 Americans were engaged in gainful employment for every officially disabled worker; by December 2010 there were just over 16…”
So argues Nicholas Eberstadt, an economist and demographer at American Enterprise Institute, in “A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic.” This booklet could be Mitt Romney’s closing argument.
Beginning two decades after the death of Franklin Roosevelt, who would find today’s government unrecognizable, government became a geyser of entitlements. In 2010, government at all levels transferred more than $2.2 trillion in money, goods and services to recipients — $7,200 per individual, almost $29,000 per family of four. Before
1960, only in the Depression years of 1931 and 1935 did federal transfer payments exceed other federal expenditures. During most of FDR’s 12 presidential years, income transfers were a third or less of federal spending. But between 1960 and 2010, entitlements exploded from 28 percent to 66 percent of federal spending. By 2010, more than 34 percent of households were receiving means-tested benefits. Republicans were more than merely complicit, says Eberstadt:
“The growth of entitlement spending over the past half-century has been distinctly greater under Republican administrations than Democratic ones. Between 1960 and 2010, the growth of entitlement spending was exponential — but in any given year, it was on the whole over 8 percent higher if the president happened to be a Republican rather than a Democrat. . . . The Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and George W. Bush administrations presided over especially lavish expansions of the entitlement state.”
Why, then, should we expect Romney to reverse Republican complicity? Because by embracing Paul Ryan, Romney embraced Ryan’s emphasis on the entitlement state’s moral as well as financial costs.
As evidence of the moral costs, Eberstadt cites the fact that means-tested entitlement recipience has not merely been destigmatized, it has been celebrated as a basic civil right. Hence the stunning growth of supposed disabilities. The normalization and then celebration of dependency help explain the “unprecedented exit from gainful work by adult men.”
For every 100 industrial workers in December 2010, there were 73 “workers” receiving disability payments.
Since 1948, male labor force participation has plummeted from 89 percent to 73 percent. Today, 27 percent of adult men do not consider themselves part of the workforce: “A large part of the jobs problem for American men today is not wanting one.” Which is why “labor force participation ratios for men in the prime of life are lower in America than in Europe.”
One reason work now is neither a duty nor a necessity is the gaming — defrauding, really — of disability entitlements. In 1960, an average of 455,000 workers were receiving disability payments; in 2011, 8.6 million were — more than four times the number of persons receiving basic welfare benefits under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Nearly half of the 8.6 million were “disabled” because of “mood disorders” or ailments of the “musculoskeletal system and the connective tissue.” It is, says Eberstadt, essentially impossible to disprove a person’s claim to be suffering from sad feelings or back pain.
between 1960 and 2010, entitlements exploded from 28 percent to 66 percent of federal spending.
“In 1960,” Eberstadt says, “roughly 134 Americans were engaged in gainful employment for every officially disabled worker; by December 2010 there were just over 16.” This, in spite of the fact that public health had improved much, and automation and the growth of the service/information economy had made work less physically demanding. Eberstadt says collecting disability is an increasingly important American “profession.”
For every 100 industrial workers in December 2010, there were 73 “workers” receiving disability payments. Between January 2010 and December 2011, the U.S. economy created 1.73 million nonfarm jobs — but almost half as many (790,000) workers became disability recipients. This trend is not a Great Recession phenomenon: In the 15 years ending in December 2011, the United States added 8.8 million nonfarm private sector jobs — and 4.1 million workers on disability rolls.
The radiating corruption of this entitlement involves the collaboration of doctors and health care professionals who certify dubious disability claims. The judicial system, too, is compromised in the process of setting disability standards that enable all this.
America’s ethos once was what Eberstadt calls “optimistic Puritanism,” combining an affinity for personal enterprise with a horror of dependency. Nov. 6 is a late and perhaps last chance to begin stopping the scandal of plundering our descendants’ wealth to finance the demands of today’s entitlement mentality.
- Mugging our descendants (rep-am.com)
- Plundering descendants’ wealth (bostonherald.com)
- George F. Will: Mugging our descendants (utsandiego.com)
- Disabling America (triblive.com)
- Will: An epidemic of takers (denverpost.com)