Where is the ACLU when you really need them?
Thomas Farnan reports: What do you call a system of government that cannot tolerate a transition of power without corrupt machinations by those unwilling to cede control? Banana Republic is a term that comes to mind.
The Special Counsel was appointed to determine whether Russia colluded with Trump to steal the election. Michael Flynn was indicted for a conversation he had with the Russian ambassador on December 28, 2016, seven weeks after the election.
That was the day after the outgoing president expelled 35 Russian diplomats—including gardeners and chauffeurs—for interfering in the election. Yes, that really happened.
The Obama administration had wiretapped Flynn’s conversation with the ambassador, hoping to find him saying something they could use to support their wild story about collusion.
The outrage, for some reason, is not that an outgoing administration was using wiretaps to listen in on a successor’s transition. It is that Flynn might have signaled to the Russians that the Trump administration would have a different approach to foreign policy.
How dare Trump presume to tell an armed nuclear state to stand down because everyone in Washington was in a state of psychological denial that he was elected?
Let’s establish one thing early here: It is okay for an incoming administration to communicate its foreign policy preferences during a transition even if they differ from the lame duck administration.
In 1980, President-elect Reagan’s transition was dominated by negotiations between outgoing President Jimmy Carter and the Iranians about the fate of 52 hostages that were being held in the Tehran. Read the rest of this entry »
The leaks that led to Michael Flynn’s resignation are just the beginning. Obama and his loyalists in and outside government are working to undermine Trump.
“As the leaks keep flowing from our intelligence agencies and the tweets keep flying from former Obama officials, keep in mind that although we haven’t heard much from Obama himself yet, the Trump administration is going to keep feeling the disruptions of what amounts to a shadow government.”
There are exceptions, of course. Jimmy Carter threw himself into international diplomacy, mediating an agreement in 1994 to return exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power in Haiti, and generally agitating for a Palestinian state.
Then there is Obama. Less than a month out of office, the broad contours of Obama’s post-presidency career are already taking shape. Obama and his loyalists, it seems, will remain in the center of the political fray, officially and unofficially, in an organized effort to undermine the Trump administration.
The bizarre scandal now unfolding over the resignation of national security advisor Michael Flynn is a case in point. Flynn’s resignation was prompted by a series of coordinated and anonymous leaks from current and former Obama administration officials in our domestic intelligence agencies.
“Obama had eight years in the White House to secure his legacy. Any efforts on his part to undermine his successor aren’t just an affront to the principles of our democracy, they’re an admission that he and his acolytes never put much stock in democracy to begin with.”
Regardless of any valid criticism of Flynn, the leaks are part of a larger, loosely organized effort now underway to preserve Obama’s legacy. This effort involves Obama-era officials still inside the federal government, former Obama staffers working in the private sector, and Obama himself.
This isn’t some conspiracy theory. After the election, Obama indicated he intends to stay involved in the political fray. In an email to his supporters on his last day in office, Obama encouraged them to stay engaged, promising “I’ll be right there with you every step of the way.” Less than two weeks later, he issued a statement saying he was “heartened” by anti-Trump protests over the executive order on immigration.
But there’s more to all this than Obama issuing solidarity statements to Trump protestors. For one thing, the former president isn’t moving back to Chicago. The Obama family will remain in Washington DC, within a couple miles of the White House, for the next two years as Obama’s youngest daughter finishes high school. Read the rest of this entry »
Gallup Poll: President Obama’s Average Approval Rating was Among the Worst of the Post-War PresidentsPosted: January 26, 2017
Only three presidents scored worse than Obama since Gallup started doing these surveys in 1945.
As President Obama left the White House, the mainstream press was falling over itself proclaiming how popular he was.
“Obama leaving office on a very high note,” was a typical headline.
Yet despite the media’s fixation with polls, the press completely buried one of the more newsworthy poll findings — a Gallup report that came out last Friday, which took a final look at the President Obama’s popularity over his eight years in office.
“Obama even did worse overall than Richard Nixon, whose average approval was 49%, and was less popular overall than George W. Bush, who got an average 49.4%.”
That poll found that Obama’s overall average approval rating was a dismal 47.9%.
Obama even did worse overall than Richard Nixon, whose average approval was 49%, and was less popular overall than George W. Bush, who got an average 49.4%.
That sounds newsworthy, doesn’t it? But you’d never know this if you relied on the mainstream press for information. That’s because not one of them reported on Gallup’s finding. Read the rest of this entry »
“Obama’s approval ratings also fell to 38% in September 2014, shortly after the Islamic State terrorist group released videos showing the beheadings of U.S. journalists captured overseas.”
Gallup, in an analysis released Friday, published the average approval rating for all twelve presidents who have served since World War II.
“After his first year he received sustained majority approval only once more during his first term in office. Fortunately for him, that came during his 16th quarter in office — around the time he was re-elected in the fall of 2012.”
John F. Kennedy ranks highest with an average approval rating of 70.1 percent. He is followed by Dwight Eisenhower (65.0 percent), George H.W. Bush (60.9 percent), Bill Clinton (55.1 percent), Lyndon Johnson (55.1 percent), Ronald Reagan (52.8 percent), George W. Bush (49.4 percent), Barack Obama (47.9 percent), Gerald Ford (47.2 percent), Jimmy Carter (45.5 percent) and Harry Truman (45.4 percent). Read the rest of this entry »
Chris Cox is the head of ‘Bikers for Trump.’
Chris Cox surveyed a small park near the U.S. Capitol, his German shepherd by his side. Wearing a Harley-Davidson jacket and a crocodile-skin cowboy hat adorned with the animal’s teeth atop his moppy, curly hair, Cox made for a particularly discordant sight in the heart of federal Washington on a misty weekend morning.
But Cox had logistics to sort out, an Inauguration Day demonstration with motorcycle die-hards from across the nation to plan.
The 48-year-old chain-saw artist from South Carolina was an early and enthusiastic supporter of President-elect Donald Trump. Now that his guy has won, Cox wants to ensure that the group he founded, Bikers for Trump, strengthens its political muscle during Trump’s presidency and beyond.
The group obtained a permit for what is expected to be the largest pro-Trump rally held by a private group in the nation’s capital timed to the inauguration. Cox calls the planned event at John Marshall Park a “halftime rally” and said there will be speakers, musical performances and upward of 5,000 bikers in attendance.
As he walked through the park with his dog, Trigger — the massive “Bikers for Trump” patch on the back of his jacket visible from every vantage — Cox began planning where to put the stage, the speakers and the portable toilets.
“Bikers are strongly organized locally,” Cox said. “They just haven’t been organized nationally before.”
Cox launched the organization in October 2015, back when Trump was still running what was considered a quixotic campaign. Since then, he has hosted rallies throughout the country, with his biker group growing to tens of thousands of mostly white men, many of whom are veterans.
During Trump’s own rallies, and at the Republican National Convention, the group has served as a vigilante security force, providing human barricades between supporters and protesters.
When Cox got Trigger a few months ago from the Czech Republic through trades he made with a guy he met at a Trump rally in South Dakota, he joked about naming the new pet Keith Schiller, after the head of security for the Trump Organization.
Ultimately, Cox said, he wants to transform bikers into a distinct voting bloc, akin to the Christian Coalition or Teamsters. His group is composed of members of established groups such as Bikers for Christ and Veteran Bikers MC, and Cox says there are many more unaffiliated “lone wolf” bikers to still bring into the political fray. But the plausibility of creating a unified voting bloc remains to be seen, particularly considering there are at least two other Trump motorcycle events happening in the District around inauguration. Read the rest of this entry »
President Obama patted himself on the back for a job well done at a press conference on Monday, after voters rebuked his policies in the November election.
2016 Election: Voters just rejected his policies, rejected his Pollyannaish view of the economy and handed his party defeats at every level of government. But as far as President Obama is concerned, everything he’s done is magic.
“Between 2009, when Barack Obama took office, and today, as he prepares to retire from it, more than 1,100 Democratic elected officials lost their jobs to Republicans. That number is unprecedented.”
— John Podhoretz and Noah Rothman, in Commentary
After the shellacking they took in the election last week, Democrats have been counseling each other to get outside their liberal “bubble” so they can reconnect with regular Americans. But not Obama.
At his press conference on Monday, Obama failed to show a scintilla of humility. His economic polices are working, ObamaCare is doing better than expected, all is well. “We should be very proud,” he said, that “when we turn over the keys the car is in pretty good shape.”
Proud? Is he kidding? Let’s review the evidence.
First, Obama has just suffered one of the harshest repudiations on record.
Despite Obama’s continued insistence on his own masterful handling of the economy, working class Americans handed the keys to the candidate who pledged to undo just about all of Obama’s so-called achievements. Trump vows to repeal ObamaCare, do a 180 degree turn on Obama’s tax policy, undo Dodd-Frank, reverse course on his immigration policy, walk away from Obama’s global warming agreements and heavy-handed regulations. Read the rest of this entry »
In foreign affairs, unlike math, the ultimate determination of success or failure isn’t immediately obvious. Major foreign events — wars, revolutions, coup d’etats and treaties — can take a long time to play out.
The Korean Conflict, once nearly as unpopular as the Vietnam War, is now probably viewed by most Americans as a “good war,” and Washington’s 63-year defense of Seoul as a worthwhile investment. Thirty-seven thousand U.S. servicemen, a number that dwarfs those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, didn’t die in vain.
Historical judgments are temperamental and subject to change until sufficient good news or bad piles up — and even then things can change given the mood and character of the nation looking back.
Few Democrats really want to expend much effort touting the foreign-policy successes of Jimmy Carter; more Democrats, but still not many, want to remember how ardently they believed Ronald Reagan would bring on Armageddon. Read the rest of this entry »
…Anyway, if you don’t believe me about Reagan, here’s his 1980convention speech. Not his sunny “Keep me office” 1984 speech; this is his dark, angry “this other guy sucks and is destroying everything” 1980 speech.
By the way, the #SmartSet is angry because Trump, by “running down” America, seems to be saying America isn’t great right now. And it is, darn it!!!
Reagan’s 1980 campaign theme? “Let’s Make America Great.”
As if it wasn’t so great under Carter. As if it needed to be made great.
And just remember this the next time you get your information from CNN or the slightly more liberal GOP #SmartSet.
Read the whole thing here
…Then, read this speech, from Ronald Reagan’s 1980 Address Accepting the Presidential Nomination at the Republican National Convention in Detroit.
Bathe in the darkness, my friends.
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice President to be, this convention, my fellow citizens of this great nation:
With a deep awareness of the responsibility conferred by your trust, I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States. I do so with deep gratitude, and I think also I might interject on behalf of all of us, our thanks to Detroit and the people of Michigan and to this city for the warm hospitality they have shown. And I thank you for your wholehearted response to my recommendation in regard to George Bush as a candidate for vice president.
I am very proud of our party tonight. This convention has shown to all America a party united, with positive programs for solving the nation’s problems; a party ready to build a new consensus with all those across the land who share a community of values embodied in these words: family, work, neighborhood, peace and freedom.
I know we have had a quarrel or two, but only as to the method of attaining a goal. There was no argument about the goal. As president, I will establish a liaison with the 50 governors to encourage them to eliminate, where it exists, discrimination against women. I will monitor federal laws to insure their implementation and to add statutes if they are needed.
More than anything else, I want my candidacy to unify our country; to renew the American spirit and sense of purpose. I want to carry our message to every American, regardless of party affiliation, who is a member of this community of shared values.
Never before in our history have Americans been called upon to face three grave threats to our very existence, any one of which could destroy us. We face a disintegrating economy, a weakened defense and an energy policy based on the sharing of scarcity.
The major issue of this campaign is the direct political, personal and moral responsibility of Democratic Party leadership–in the White House and in Congress–for this unprecedented calamity which has befallen us. They tell us they have done the most that humanly could be done. They say that the United States has had its day in the sun; that our nation has passed its zenith. They expect you to tell your children that the American people no longer have the will to cope with their problems; that the future will be one of sacrifice and few opportunities.
My fellow citizens, I utterly reject that view. The American people, the most generous on earth, who created the highest standard of living, are not going to accept the notion that we can only make a better world for others by moving backwards ourselves. Those who believe we can have no business leading the nation.
I will not stand by and watch this great country destroy itself under mediocre leadership that drifts from one crisis to the next, eroding our national will and purpose. We have come together here because the American people deserve better from those to whom they entrust our nation’s highest offices, and we stand united in our resolve to do something about it. Read the rest of this entry »
Alana Abramson reports: Former President Jimmy Carter believes the Obama administration “waited too long” to act on ISIS, allowing the group to shore up the funding and resources for its success in taking over parts of Iraq.
“First of all, we waited too long. We let the Islamic state build up its money, capability and strength and weapons while it was still in Syria.”
“First of all, we waited too long. We let the Islamic state build up its money, capability and strength and weapons while it was still in Syria,” Carter said in an October 7 interview with the Fort-Worth Star Telegram, “Then when [ISIS] moved into Iraq, the Sunni Muslims didn’t object to their being there and about a third of the territory in Iraq was abandoned.”
“Then when [ISIS] moved into Iraq, the Sunni Muslims didn’t object to their being there and about a third of the territory in Iraq was abandoned.”
Carter said ground troops could enable the mission to succeed, but that troops would only help Iraq, not Syria, where ISIS originated.
“I really object to the killing of people, particularly Americans overseas who haven’t been brought to justice and put on trial.”
Carter’s comments come as ISIS forces advance further into Kobani, a Kurdish town in Syria bordering on Turkey. Gen. Martin Dempsey told ABC’s Martha Raddatz on October 7 he is “fearful” a full ISIS takeover of Kobani could be imminent.
“I noticed that two of his secretaries of defense, after they got out of office, were very critical of the lack of positive action on the part of the president.”
Carter’s dissatisfaction with Obama’s ISIS strategy may be indicative of his feelings toward the president’s Middle East policy as whole, which he implied lacked focus.
“It changes from time to time,” Carter told the Star Telegram. “I noticed that two of his secretaries of defense, after they got out of office, were very critical of the lack of positive action on the part of the president.” Read the rest of this entry »
TEHRAN — American flags and effigies of President Barack Obama were set ablaze on Wednesday as thousands gathered to mark the anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the Iranian capital’s U.S. Embassy.
New and large anti-U.S. propaganda posters — including one mocking the raising of the American flag at Iwo Jima — were spotted in Tehran….
…Students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1979 and took dozens of Americans hostage. The hostages were held for more than 400 days and the crisis prompted the U.S. to sever ties with Iran….(read more)
Source: NBC News
From the YouTube video (above)
Iranians hold nationwide rallies, marking the 36th anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran. In the capital Tehran, people are gathering outside the building of the former American Embassy to chant slogans against US policies. November fourth is known as Student Day in Iran. 36 years ago today, a group of university students stormed the embassy building. Documents retrieved from the embassy showed the building had turned into a center of spying aimed at overthrowing the establishment following the victory of the Islamic Revolution just months earlier.
Tesla’s impresario is right about one thing: Humanity’s preservation is a legitimate government interest
Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. writes: There is often a large difference between what people imagine they are doing and what they are actually doing. Especially in politics, any relationship between the effect of policy, the goal of policy and the stated goal is often incidental to the point of randomness.
“He’s not the first to suggest that dramatically reducing the cost of earth orbit is a key to future space endeavors. He isn’t the only dot-com millionaire to turn his attention to space.”
Adding to the complexity, the doers themselves are often confused about the relationship between rhetoric and reality.
Which naturally brings us to a new biography of Elon Musk, whose entrepreneurial energy is a marvel; the world would be better off if there were more like him, even if a “nonstop horrible” childhood was a precursor to his adult achievements. That said, the “change the world” stuff, let alone the “save humanity” stuff, that fills Ashlee Vance’s admired “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” is a tad overdone.
“If he succeeds, though, in delivering his cheap, reusable heavy-lift vehicle, vast new possibilities will open up. Fifty years from now if there are hotels and factories in orbit, they may well be SpaceX hotels and factories.”
Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House roof. GM rolled out its EV1 electric car in 1996. Mr. Musk has been selling back to affluent, middle-aged baby boomers their own youthful ideals in the shape of roof panels and plug-in cars.
These items sell not because the moment is ripe to transition the world economy to solar but as vanity trinkets for the rich that even the rich wouldn’t buy without a large helping of taxpayer money.
“If a human outpost materializes on Mars, it may well be a SpaceX outpost.”
Yes, Mr. Musk deserves credit for organizing his enterprises and getting them off the ground. The bureaucratic obstacles to starting a car business are especially daunting. And his Tesla Model S is a lovely object and wonderful machine.
[Order Ashlee Vance’s book “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” from Amazon.com]
Nowhere in Mr. Vance’s book, though, does the figure $7,500 appear—the direct taxpayer rebate to each U.S. buyer of Mr. Musk’s car. You wouldn’t know that 10% of all Model S cars have been sold in Norway—though Tesla’s own 10-K lists the possible loss of generous Norwegian tax benefits as a substantial risk to the company. Read the rest of this entry »
The president’s desperation for a foreign-policy legacy is leading toward a bad nuclear deal—and a dangerous one
“The Arab world has entered a war phase that may go for decades. Its special threat is that the struggle is not only an essential one—Sunni vs. Shia, in a fight to the end—but that it engenders and is marked by what British Prime Minister David Cameron has called ‘the death cult.’ Many in the fight have no particular fear of summoning the end of the world.”
Syria, red lines, an exploding Mideast, a Russian president who took the American’s measure and made a move, upsetting a hard-built order that had maintained for a quarter-century since the fall of the Soviet Union—what a mess.
In late February, at a Washington meeting of foreign-policy intellectuals, Henry Kissinger summed up part of the past six years: “Ukraine has lost Crimea; Russia has lost Ukraine; the U.S. has lost Russia; the world has lost stability.”
“Nuclear proliferation has been a problem for so long that we no longer talk or think about it. But in the current moment in the Mideast, we’re not talking ‘nuclear proliferation’ in the abstract. It’s more like talking about the spread of nuclear weapons among the inmates of an institution for the criminally insane.”
What Barack Obama needs is a foreign-policy win, and not only for reasons of legacy. He considers himself a serious man, he wants to deal constructively with a pressing, high-stakes international question, and none fits that description better than Iran and nuclear weapons. And so the talks in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Here is the fact. The intention behind a deal—to stop Iran from developing, and in the end using, nuclear weapons—could not be more serious and crucial. The Arab world has entered a war phase that may go for decades. Its special threat is that the struggle is not only an essential one—Sunni vs. Shia, in a fight to the end—but that it engenders and is marked by what British Prime Minister David Cameron has called “the death cult.” Many in the fight have no particular fear of summoning the end of the world.
“There are many reasons nuclear weapons have not been used since 1945. One is that the U.S. was not evil and the Soviet Union was not crazy. It was also a triumph of diplomacy, of imperfect but ultimately sound strategic thinking, that kept the unthinkable from happening.”
Once Iran has what used to be called the bomb, there will be a race among nearby nations—Persian Gulf states, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey—to get their own. As each state builds its arsenal, there will be an increased chance that freelancers, non-states and sub-states will get their hands on parts of it.
The two most boring words in history are “nuclear proliferation.” Jimmy Carter made them so on Oct. 28, 1980, when, in a presidential debate, he announced that his 12-year-old daughter, Amy, had told him that the great issue of the day was the control of nuclear arms. America laughed: So that’s where the hapless one gets his geopolitical insights. Read the rest of this entry »
Natural language — the way people ordinarily speak and write — is notoriously difficult to parse
Michael Wolraich writes: When Hillary Clinton released emails from her personal account last week, many assumed that her attorneys had personally reviewed the messages before sending them to the State Department, but that’s not what
happened. As detailed in her press statement, the review team used keyword searches to automatically filter over 60,000 messages, flagging about half as work related.
“I have absolute confidence that everything that could be in any way connected to work is now in the possession of the State Department,” Clinton declared.
I’m afraid that I don’t share her confidence, and I speak from experience. Twenty years ago, I used the same method to sort the Clinton administration’s email communications, including those of First Lady Hillary Clinton. It failed miserably.
Email did not exist when Congress established the Freedom of Information Act in 1967, and government officials did not originally consider electronic communications to be public records that they had to preserve and disseminate. On the last day of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, a group of organizations representing archivists and libraries sued the White House to prevent the administration from deleting email relating to the Iran-Contra scandal. A temporary injunction was issued, and the case wound its way through the courts until 1993, when a federal judge ordered President Bill Clinton to preserve all electronic communication under the Freedom of Information Act.
“Even after significant tweaking, I don’t recall achieving more than a 70 percent success rate, which is particularly poor when you consider that random sorting would yield 50 percent if the distribution were even.”
In 1994, I was 22 years old, fresh out of college and working as a computer programmer for a company called Information Management Consultants. IMC was one of many three-letter-acronym corporations that ring Washington’s famous beltway and feed off government contracts. I dressed in a gray J.C. Penney suit and programmed three-letter-acronym computer languages (SQL, 4GL) for three-letter-acronym federal agencies (IRS, OPM, DOI, OMB, DOD). It was dull work, made duller by my company’s decision to block employee access to the “World Wide Web” so that we would not be distracted from our work.
“Those were heady days for a young government IT contractor. We had a special office in Arlington, Virginia, where we were could dress casually while pursuing important, groundbreaking work for the President of the United States!”
One day a colleague invited me to join a mysterious new project for the Executive Office of the President (EOP). The White House had hired IMC to archive its email after the court ordered it to preserve electronic records. Few people had multiple email accounts back then and many federal employees used their work accounts for personal communication, so we had to figure out some way to distinguish work email from personal correspondence.
Those were heady days for a young government IT contractor. We had a special office in Arlington, Virginia, where we were could dress casually while pursuing important, groundbreaking work for the President of the United States! We lounged around the conference table in our khakis and scrawled deep thoughts on the big whiteboard. Mostly, we wrote words: president, federal, treasury, treaty, China, Serbia, ambassador, military, classified, and so on. These were the keywords with which we hoped to flag all the work-related messages, or at least the vast majority. We included the names of federal officials, common misspellings, and, of course, numerous three-letter acronyms. Since I had a philosophy degree, the team leader asked me to design logic to make the search smarter, e.g., “white AND house.”
“To make sense of natural language, it’s not sufficient to recognize the words; you also need to understand grammar, appreciate nuance, interpret metaphors, grasp allusions…”
To test our algorithm, the administration gave us a batch of sample messages. They included official business, such as a debate about a public scandal in which an official traveled by federal helicopter to play golf, and less official business, such as a private love note between two staff members. We ran our algorithm and crossed our fingers. Read the rest of this entry »
“The fallout has led to questions about the president’s effectiveness, his resolve and his general ability to lead, at home and abroad.”
For The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin and David Nakamura report: The week after his reelection, President Obama was a man full of promise and promises: His job-approval rating stood at 54 percent, the 2010 tea party wave that had knocked his first term off balance appeared to have receded, and he seemed as sober about the future as he was hopeful.
“The wreckage of 2013 had similar effects on the combatants: The president’s approval ratings took a nose dive, and Congress’s were even worse. Gallup reported that 42 percent of the public approved of Obama’s performance as the new year dawned.”
“With respect to the issue of mandate, I’ve got one mandate . . . to help middle-class families and families that are working hard to try to get into the middle class,” he said at a news conference in the East Room of the White House in November 2012. Obama acknowledged the dangers of “presidential overreach in second terms,” but he put forward an expansive, legacy-building agenda: a major fiscal deal, immigration reform and action on climate change.
“Every decision that has been made has been based on political calculation. You live by the political sword, you die by it.”
Two bruising years later, he has registered progress only on addressing climate change, and a president who once boasted of a barrier-breaking liberal coalition is under fire from his own party as his Republican rivals are poised to make gains in Tuesday’s midterm elections. Read the rest of this entry »
“We waited too long. We let the Islamic State build up its money, capability and strength and weapons while it was still in Syria…”
“I noticed that two of his secretaries of defense, after they got out of office, were very critical of the lack of positive action on the part of the president.”
“But Jimmy…wait…please…I know…I…it’s…but…”
“It’s not just him. It’s actually impacting the entire party.”
“We did some issue testing between you know, who handles which issues – Democrats, Republicans. We took out Obama. Republicans lead by 38 points on the issue of ensuring a strong defense.”
President Barack Obama’s foreign policy won’t just take a toll on his presidency in the polls, but will have an effect on the entire Democratic Party.
“He’s on the precipice of doing Jimmy Carter-like damage to the Democratic brand on foreign policy.”
Photo of the Day: President Obama Views Border Crisis From Window of Air Force One, Attends Fundraiser in TexasPosted: July 9, 2014
Obama calls on Dallas friends for Democratic fundraiser
Tickets for the dinner ranged from $10,000 to the maximum allowed, $32,400
…Aberly, the hostess, has been a top bundler for Obama, raising more than $1 million for his two White House runs. She also has given roughly $500,000 over the last decade to assorted Democratic causes, plus $100,000 last fall to Planned Parenthood.
Obama spoke in a grand two-story dining room at the Aberly-Lebowitz home, a 12,000-square-foot, northwest Dallas mansion that’s appraised on the tax rolls for $10.1 million. Read the rest of this entry »
For decades, Carter’s presidency was synonymous with weakness on the world stage. The late 1970’s was the era of double-digit inflation, a worldwide oil crisis, Iranian hostages and Soviet military advances from Latin America to Afghanistan. So pathetic was America’s predicament at the time that the late Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy mounted a primary challenge to Carter from the left.
“It is barely remembered today, but, for all the derision heaped upon Carter as a weak and feckless President, he eventually responded to foreign aggression in tough and concrete ways.”
Obama’s rise to power mirrored his Democratic predecessor’s in many ways. Both men came to office in the wake of widespread public disenchantment with the political establishment, and promoted themselves as outsiders and breaths of fresh air. Both men spoke of surmounting what they portrayed as Americans’ exaggerated anxieties about the dangers hyped by fear-mongering conservatives.
“The correlations between the world situation in the twilight of the Carter administration and in the second Obama term are hard to ignore.”
For Carter, in a 1977 commencement speech, it was “our inordinate fear of communism” that Americans needed to overcome. For Obama, in his 2009 Cairo address, it was the “fear” and “mistrust” that had grown between the West and Muslim world in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Both men came into office emphasizing the promotion of human rights as a crucial dimension of American foreign policy. And both men gave the impression that their good intentions would be enough to accomplish these Herculean tasks.
Unfortunately, as is often the case, the reality of the world came crashing down. Read the rest of this entry »
The Fate of Progressive Evangelicalism
Shirley Hanson had little interest in politics. The suburban Minneapolis homemaker was committed to her family, serving in her local community, and, in particular, serving in her evangelical church. Aghast at the excesses of the late 1960s and early ’70s, she voted for Richard Nixon in 1968 and 1972 but then was disillusioned by the Watergate scandal. As the 1976 presidential election approached, she became intrigued with a relative new-comer to national politics, Jimmy Carter. The manner in which his faith was so much a part of his identity compelled her to think anew about her interest and possible involvement in politics.
When her three children returned to school that fall, Hanson went door-to-door in surrounding neighborhoods to generate votes for Carter. She then watched with considerable satisfaction that November as the peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia, was elected as the 39th President of the United States.
Fast forward four years. Hanson renounced her support for Carter and cast an impassioned vote for Ronald Reagan. She was not alone in her decision: a grinding recession, gasoline shortages, and a hostage crisis in Iran that deeply wounded American morale left Carter vulnerable.
In Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter, Randall Balmer, a noted commentator on America’s religious past and present who serves on the faculty at Dartmouth College, seeks to make sense of this turn of events, situating Carter in the long arc of progressive evangelicalism and in particular its vicissitudes during the ascendancy of the Religious Right, a period detailed so well by David Swartz in his recent Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism…(read more) Books and Culture
Reviewing the book “Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism”, in October 2012, For Christianity Today, Gregory Metzger writes:
In the Iowa caucuses of 1976, The New York Times reported on the surprising impact of a new force in American politics. This force propelled a relative unknown to victory in Iowa and eventually earned him the nomination of his party. The candidate was Jimmy Carter, the party Democratic, and the new political force evangelicals.
Carter’s shocking victory in Iowa would propel him to the Democratic nomination, and in the general election Carter would benefit from the active support of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Jimmy Allen, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, in his defeat of Republican Gerald Ford. Four years later evangelicals would prove to be a key plank in a Religious Right’s effort to defeat Carter and elevate Ronald Reagan to the presidency. A new book tells the dramatic story of the grassroots movements of the evangelical left that formed in the ’60s and ’70s and helped pave the way for Carter’s stunning victory, and explains the forces that would leave those movements in ideological retreat in the ’80s and ’90s. It’s a complicated story told with great skill and clarity by David R. Swartz in Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism (University of Pennsylvania Press).
[Order the book Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism from Amazon.com]
Swartz, assistant professor of history at Asbury University, did his studies at Notre Dame under the tutelage of first George Marsden and then Mark Noll, and his writing reflects the decades of careful evangelical scholarship that those two have pioneered. Swartz has produced a must read not only for those interested in American religion and politics, but also for students of global Christianity. In relatively short order (the book’s main text comes in at 266 pages), Swartz gives a richly textured narrative of some of evangelicalism’s brightest thinkers, most creative activists, and most controversial provocateurs. Read the rest of this entry »
Michael Kazin writes: From 1964 to 1968, close to 34,000 Americans died in South Vietnam. We will never know how many Vietnamese women, men, and children perished during those years, but the total, according to most estimates, was at least one million. Among the dead were tens of thousands of civilians—blown apart by explosives dropped from planes, burned to death by napalm, or gunned down by U.S. troops whose commanders told them that, in a village considered loyal to the Vietcong, they should “kill anything that we see and anything that moved.” Their commander-in-chief was Lyndon Baines Johnson.
This past week, on the golden anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, four of LBJ’s successors went to his library in Texas to praise his character and his deeds. George W. Bush lauded him for turning “a nation’s grief to a great national purpose.” Jimmy Carter chided his fellow Democrats for not emulating Johnson’s determination to fight for racial equality. Barack Obama remarked that LBJ’s “hunger” for power “was harnessed and redeemed by a deeper understanding of the human condition, by a sympathy for the underdog, for the downtrodden, for the outcast.” Bill Clinton reflected that Johnson “saw limitless possibilities in the lives of other poor people like him who just happened to have a different color skin.”
Some liberal journalists echoed the chief executives, past and present. LBJ, wrote my friend E.J. Dionne, presided over “a consensual period when a large and confident majority believed that national action could expand opportunities and alleviate needless suffering. The earthily practical Johnson showed that finding realistic ways of creating a better world is what Americans are supposed to do.” Not a word about those countless people in Southeast Asia whose lives reached their unnatural limits when they encountered an American infantryman with an M-16 or a bomb dropped from a B-52.
Of course, to remember what the United States, during LBJ’s tenure, did to Vietnam and to the young Americans who served there does not cancel out his domestic achievements. But to portray him solely as a paragon of empathy, a liberal hero with a minor flaw or two, is not merely a feat of willful amnesia. It is deeply immoral. Read the rest of this entry »
The Democrats are vulnerable again on handling the world
Note: WSJ is getting funky with their headlines, don’t you think? Totally…
Daniel Henninger writes: Air-dropping himself into Kiev Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the Russian seizure of Crimea is “not 21st-century, G-8, major-nation behavior.” He said Mr. Putin should allow “international observers” to enter Crimea.
Dobbs: “If you’re the police, where are your badges?”
Chief bandido: “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges!”
We may assume Mr. Putin would say the masked Russians patrolling Ukrainian Crimea are “international observers.”
As of this week, it’s official. Vladimir Putin has turned Barack Obama totally into Jimmy Carter.
We may quibble over the timeline. Some might say it began when Mr. Obama whispered to then-Russian president Dmitry Medvedev he’d have “more flexibility” after the 2012 election; others that it set in when the U.S. president took Mr. Putin’s offer to let Bashar Assad escape the bombing of his airfields for using WMD against his own people.
I’ve said it before, but if Barack Obama had been president instead of Ronald Reagan, I’d still be a citizen of the Soviet Union.
— Garry Kasparov (@Kasparov63) February 22, 2014
Ben Shapiro writes: On Friday, the White House announced that President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama would travel to South Africa next weeks to pay their respects to Nelson Mandela. Obama has already announced that the White House will fly the flags at half-staff though December 9 in Mandela’s honor.
When former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died, President Obama did not lower the White House flags, nor did he attend her funeral, instead sending ex-Secretaries of State George Shultz and James Baker III. The Sun reported, “[Downing] Street is most angered by rejections from Obama, First Lady Michelle and Vice-President Joe Biden. And none of the four surviving ex-US leaders – Jimmy Carter, George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr. – is coming either.”
- Meanwhile, over at the discredited LittleGreenFootballs, the aways-irrelevant, frequently-mocked Charles Johnson has a grand mal seizure of a left-wing hateful bug-eyed name-calling temper tantrum, crying “racist racist racist racist hate speech hate speech omg racist racist!’ Just Some More Overt Racism and Hate Speech at Breitbart “News” (littlegreenfootballs.com)
Greg Pollowitz notes: I’m not sure this is the type of review Chris Matthews was hoping for from the Times of his new book, Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked. “It’s a nice idea for a book, if only it were true”:
“Ever since our national politics dissolved into a miasma of polarization and strident punditry — which means either the Clinton pseudoscandals or the John Adams administration, depending on your historical reference point — Washington pontificators have waxed wistful for gentler times. In the glow of nostalgia, even ideologues and scoundrels come to resemble civic-minded statesmen who put aside partisanship to broker compromises.
This romantic tendency usually makes for bad history. A few good books have mined the vein — including last year’s overlooked “The Last Great Senate: Courage and Statesmanship in Times of Crisis,” by Ira Shapiro, a former Senate aide — but Chris Matthews’s “Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked” isn’t one of them. A former speechwriter for Jimmy Carter and aide to the House speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr. (one of his subjects here), Matthews is best known today as an MSNBC talking head — snarling head, some might say — a kind of Democratic Pat Buchanan giving voice to the resentments of the disgruntled middle class. For those familiar with his brand of confidently asserted overgeneralization, the book is about what you would expect.
Associated Press – Matthew Barakat writes: A nuclear deal between the U.S., Iran and other world powers has been described as a trust-building step after decades of animosity that hopefully will lead to a more comprehensive deal down the road.
But for many of the Americans who were held hostage at the start of the Iranian revolution, trusting the regime in Tehran feels like a mistake.
“It’s kind of like Jimmy Carter all over again,” said Clair Cortland Barnes, now retired and living in Leland, N.C., after a career at the CIA and elsewhere. He sees the negotiations now as no more effective than they were in 1979 and 1980, when he and others languished, facing mock executions and other torments.
The hostage crisis began in November 1979 when militants stormed the United States Embassy in Tehran and seized its occupants. In all, 66 were taken hostage. Thirteen were released less than three weeks later in 1979; one was released in July 1980; the remaining 52 were released Jan. 20, 1981.
Retired Air Force Col. Thomas E. Schaefer, 83, called the deal “foolishness.”
Joel B. Pollak writes: Harvard professor and noted civil rights and international law expert Alan Dershowitz criticized the nuclear deal with Iran sharply on Sunday, saying that it “could become a Chamberlain moment” for President Barack Obama.
“I don’t think that this deal was motivated by any anti-Israel sentiment,” Dershowitz told Breitbart News. “I think that both President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry believe that the deal is in the best interest of the U.S. and Israel. But I think they’re dead wrong.
“When you do a risk-benefit analysis, the possibility that this will actually result in ending Iran’s nuclear weapons program is probably in the range of 10%, and the risk that it will increase their likelihood of moving quickly toward developing a nuclear weapon is in the 20% to 30% range. The rest is uncertainty.
“I think it was a very bad example of negotiating from weakness rather than strength. The U.S. had Iran where we wanted them, in a much weakened position. And instead of continuing the pressure we sent three messages. 1. Sanctions are over. We are going to eliminate some now–it’s only a few billion dollars’ worth, but we are going to send a message to China and others that have been dying to so business with Iran that it’s OK. And we will never get them back to that point of pressure. 2. I think we effectively took the military option off the table and made it much more difficult for Israel to pursue a military option in the next several months. 3. We gave them a yellow light, at least, if not quite a green one, as to continuing onto certain aspects of developing nuclear weapons–triggering devices and material that could be easily transposed to military use.
Victor Davis Hanson writes: Multi-billionaire Oprah Winfrey, after her surreal $38,000 handbag “racism” encounter in Switzerland, has just weighed in again on race and the presidency, as yet the nth way of hyping her new film: “There’s a level of disrespect for the office that occurs. And that occurs in some cases and maybe even many cases because he’s African American. There’s no question about that and it’s the kind of thing nobody ever says but everybody’s thinking it.”
Nobody ever says? Has she read a newspaper columnist or turned on MSNBC lately?
Aside from her historical ignorance, Oprah Winfrey has increasingly turned to the race card to explain the president’s plummeting polls. In her race-obsessed world, Syria, Benghazi, the NSA, IRS, AP, and ACA messes do not explain why a reelected president crashes from a recent 60 percent approval rating to less than 40 percent in less than a year. Read the rest of this entry »
Charismatic career politicians don’t make the best commanders-in-chief.
Victor Davis Hanson writes: The second terms of the latest three presidents have not been successful. Bill Clinton was impeached after his infamous lie to Americans, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”
George W. Bush was blamed for the postwar violence in Iraq.
Barack Obama’s scandals — with his accompanying “limited hangout” denials — are ruining his second term: the growing IRS messes, the Associated Press monitoring, the NSA embarrassments, the Benghazi killings, the Syria bluster and backdown, and, of course, the Obamacare fiasco and the misleading statements about it.
What are other common denominators of this collective tenure of our recent presidents?
For a half-century, John F. Kennedy has mesmerized Democrats.
Robert Costa writes: It’s a black-and-white picture we’ve all seen before: an earnest, 16-year-old Bill Clinton shaking hands with President John F. Kennedy. It was snapped in July 1963 in the Rose Garden, soon after Kennedy addressed a group of Boys Nation delegates. Ever since, and most notably during his 1992 presidential campaign, Clinton has recalled the moment. For him, it was more than a brief encounter; it was an experience, and one so powerful that Clinton once said it caused him to have “arthritis of the face.”
Clinton’s deeply felt connection to Kennedy is hardly unique. Memories of Kennedy’s presidency, from his inaugural address to the horror of Dallas, live on in the American imagination. But they linger particularly with Democrats, and for the past 50 years, generations of them have venerated JFK as their party’s tragic hero. Democrats may have long ago abandoned the Kennedy program, but JFK’s flame flickers elusively in their hearts.
The Point of No Return
Fred Barnes writes: President Obama is facing the abyss. It’s that moment when a president’s plans are overwhelmed by his problems, and he’s relegated to playing defense for the rest of his White House term. Obama’s agenda already lingers near death. His poll numbers have slipped to new lows. His speeches are full of alibis and accusations.
Obama hasn’t reached the point of no return, but he’s close. His biggest problem is the collapse of Obamacare on its launching pad as the entire country watched. And there’s worse trouble ahead. More likely than not, Obamacare will be the dominant issue in the final three-plus years of his presidency. From that, there’s no recovery. Read the rest of this entry »
Tim Cavanaugh writes: Although President Barack Obama and the establishment media routinely describe a potential federal default as “unprecedented,” the United States government has flaked on its debt service several times, and one expert says the current default has already begun.
The historical default precedents should be of limited comfort to Obama, however. One of the deadbeat presidents was the commander in chief during a disastrous war that saw Washington, D.C. occupied and the White House burned to the ground. The other was Jimmy Carter.
According to Connie Cass of Associated Press, the U.S. government “briefly stiffed some of its creditors on at least two occasions.” The first default took place in November 1814, during the administration of James Madison, America’s tiniest chief executive. Just a few months after the British conquest of Washington, D.C. during the War of 1812, the Treasury was unable to move enough precious metal to service its debt, and missed interest payments on bonds. Boston bondholders, according to Wayne State College history professor Don Hickey, were paid off in short-term interest-bearing treasury notes or more bonds. These debt service troubles, and the war, were resolved within a few months.
When we measure by consumption, it’s clear people are better off today than they were 30 years ago.
The Census Bureau’s “Income and Poverty” report, released in September, underscored that the economic recovery has largely failed to reach the poor and middle class. However, there is a subtle but substantive difference between stating that inequality is worse today than it was 30 years ago, and that people are worse off today than they were 30 years ago. Rising inequality does not preclude an improvement in standards of living at the bottom of the income distribution.
Stepping back from the traditional debate about income inequality, Kevin Hassett and I recently co-authored a study that focuses on changes in material standards of living over the last 30 years. Consumption of goods and services is often a far better measure of household welfare than is income. What we buy and consume with our income directly adds to our utility and happiness, and it also has a direct impact on our standard of living. Read the rest of this entry »
The predictable results of the progressive-left’s corruption, deception, and arrogance: the slow painful death of liberalismPosted: September 30, 2013
Reality Index: Americans are more conservative than they have been in decades
Larry Bartels reports: James Stimson knows as much about public opinion as anyone in America. He has been tracking the nation’s policy preferences for more than 20 years using a “policy mood” index derived from responses to a wide variety of opinion surveys involving hundreds of specific policy questions on topics ranging from taxes and spending to environmental regulation to gun control.
The latest update of Stimson’s policy mood series suggests that the American public in 2012 was more conservative than at any point since 1952. (Actually, since mood in each year is estimated with some error, it seems safer to say that the current level of conservatism roughly equals the previous highs recorded in 1980 and 1952.) While the slight increase in conservatism from 2011 to 2012 is too small to be significant, it continues a marked trend that began as soon as Barack Obama moved into the White House. Read the rest of this entry »