Tag: President

Secret Service Swings and Misses

Wow:

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson will face questions about how an armed intruder jumped the White House fence and made it as far as the East Room when she testifies before a House committee on Tuesday.

Sources confirmed to Fox News on Monday that 42-year-old Omar Gonzalez overpowered a Secret Service officer in the Sept. 19 incident — this led to a struggle and “wrestling” inside the executive mansion as he darted through. Gonzalez was eventually tackled by a counter-assault agent in the East Room after he reached the doorway to the Green Room, a parlor overlooking the South Lawn.

The revelation that the intruder made it much farther than originally known came on the eve of a scheduled House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing that will address the breach, as well as lawmakers’ “concerns” about the Secret Service’s security protocols.

There’s no word yet on whether Gonzalez had blue skin and the ability to teleport.

To be fair to the Secret Service, they usually tackle these guys on the White House lawn. This is first time in a long time someone has actually gotten inside the building. Nevertheless, they clearly need to make some changes, including abandoning the idea of a “diverse” Secret Service:

Whatever I think of the President, the Secret Service’s job is to protect him from the numerous nuts who want to write themselves into a history book. This was a pretty big failure on their part.

Monday Roundup

I get backlogged on stories. And I hate open tabs. So here’s a smattering of stories I don’t have time to do full blog posts on but thought were interesting.

  • The White House put the kibosh on the Platinum Coin idea, the IOU idea and the 14th Amendment idea and the President had a presser today calling on the GOP to raise the debt ceiling. The death of the Coin caused much angst among the Platinum Front of Judea crowd (who also turned on Jon Stewart when he ridiculed the idea). But it’s yet another data point showing that as dumb as the President can be, he’s not as dumb as his supporters.
  • A good read on a pair of developers who have taken on Philadelphia’s entrenched trade unions. They bid out a project, gave a little over half the contracts to non-union businesses and became the target of union wrath and violence. A peace has been reached but the terms are unclear: the unions are saying the developers’ next project will be all-union, the developers are saying they’ll bid it out to everyone. It will be interesting to see if this cracks the trade union stranglehold on Philadelphia business or if the Pestronk Brothers give in.
  • The minute I heard Lance Armstrong was interviewing with Oprah, I knew he was going to confess. The sky is turning red with lawsuits and the Feds may get involved as well. This is going to get ugly.
  • At the President’s Reddit chat, one question he ignored that has gotten some fun discussion is “Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?” I’m not surprised he skipped it since it was probably much more substantive than most of the other questions. To me, it’s not even a question. You choose the horses. Ducks look nice on TV and they behave in a pond. But, like almost all fowl, they can be nasty violent dangerous creatures when they want to be. Horses, too, of course. But I’ve found birds to just be plain mean. Must be that dinosaur heritage.
  • Military suicides hit a record last year. It doesn’t seem to get that much attention, how much strain these wars are putting an increasingly narrow sliver of our nation. Let’s hope our politicians take a break from creating crises to figure out something that will help.
  • I’m sure we can have an argument about one of those things.

    Peaceful Secession Not an Option

    That’s probably the most sensational headline I could have gone with, but it does get to the point of those petitions demanding that the White House allow states to secede.

    Although the founders established a perpetual union, they also provided for a government that is, as President Lincoln would later describe it, “of the people, by the people, and for the people” — all of the people. Participation in, and engagement with, government is the cornerstone of our democracy. And because every American who wants to participate deserves a government that is accessible and responsive, the Obama Administration has created a host of new tools and channels to connect concerned citizens with White House. In fact, one of the most exciting aspects of the We the People platform is a chance to engage directly with our most outspoken critics.

    So in the end, the Administration played it safe and decided on a bland response from an Administration flunky. I won’t go deep into the author’s arguments except to note that he implicitly observed that the President doesn’t have the Constitutional authority to allow any state to secede. Contrast the tone of this response with the snarky and somewhat bitchy one here and you’ll see that the White House decided to tread carefully with the question. Not sure if the recent spike in gun sales has anything to do with it.

    I do have one piece of good news for all rebel scum though. The petition to build a Death Star was also denied. Without this superweapon, the Obama Administration will never subjugate the galaxy, much less implement Obamacare.

    Open Mic Night: The Contrarian on Preserving the Freedom Based Society

    The Contrarian has written an essay that he would like to share with the RTFLC readership. I’ve agreed to loan him my soapbox.

    The views expressed below do not necessarily reflect my own and I reserve the right to argue for or against them in the comments. Please address any feedback to The Contrarian.

    Take it away, TC:

    Black and Against Obama By James Quentin Clark

    I’m a twenty-something Black guy and I’m voting for Mitt Romney. I understand that this is unusual, so I’d like to fully explain my reasons why. Trust me; read on and you’ll have something interesting to think about.

    The first dumb assumption that people make and occasionally explicitly state is as follows: You are Black. Obama is Black. Why would you not support him?

    This is racist reasoning and it holds back the Black community in this country. It is the exact opposite of what Dr. King advocated in his “I Have a Dream Speech”, wherein he advocated a society where people are judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. To support Obama unthinkingly after simply observing his skin tone is to apply caveman irrationality to a choice affecting the future of a modern technological society.

    Other groups get this sort of presumption, but none as bad as Blacks. Women and other minorities are often taken for granted by democrats as natural enemies of republicans. Democratic spokespeople like Eva Longoria feel they can openly ridicule women and non-Whites who vote republican as a result. Still, if you are a woman, Hispanic, or Asian and vote for Romney, it’s only a subset of your community that sees you as a sell-out or traitor.

    The virulent backlash against actress Stacy Dash after her endorsement of Romney points to just how ingrained is the notion that being Black requires supporting democrats. I could go on a long tangent here on the roots of this type of thinking and irrational anti-concepts like “Oreos”, but I shall refrain. Suffice to say White people are lucky to not have to deal with it. It is understood that White people are diverse in their thinking; some are liberal, some are conservative, some are socialist, some are capitalist, etc. We don’t get to presume political viewpoint based on pale skin.

    So what is my deal then? For one, I’m not a republican. I have voted for democrats, republicans, and third parties in the past. I am an independent voter.

    I am also not a religious conservative. Though I am pretty old-fashioned in my personal life, I have no problem with gay marriage or abortion (though I don’t like the legal reasoning applied in Roe v. Wade). In fact I agree with Obama on a number of social and civil liberties issues, like closing Guantanamo Bay, humane immigration reform, and marijuana legalization. It is unfortunate that reality has not matched his 2008 campaign rhetoric on all of these issues.

    I am not a libertarian ideologue either. Obama’s economic policies, properly implemented, can reduce unemployment, and a large welfare state is a workable model as demonstrated by several European countries. What’s more, Obamacare can achieve its stated goal of insuring more people, covering people with pre-existing conditions, and leveling the insurance market playing field.

    In short, I believe that Obama could be right about everything (though most likely he is not). All of his policies could achieve their desired effects, and everything he predicts could come true. I still would not support him.

    I am what you might call a “values voter”, though not in the sense that most people understand. It isn’t that Romney shares my particular set of superstitions; rather it is that my core values lead me to certain views about society, and my vote is based on which candidate is more aligned with those views.

    I believe this is the only rational way to vote given how mendacious and artificial our electoral system has become. Noam Chomsky once said that the way to control what people think is to narrow the range of discussion on important issues to a tiny spectrum, but then to allow for passionate argument within that range to create the illusion of meaningful debate. The democrat and republican parties in collusion with the media have successfully accomplished this, effectively crowding out dissenting voices from third parties and agitators like Ron Paul and Dennis Kuccinich.

    Our political system was not spawned on us from some vacuum. It is a consequence of our culture and education system. This means that, even if we were to elect philosopher kings to all higher offices, they would not get very far as they would find that their constituents demand much of the graft, bureaucracy, and corruption we claim to oppose. Government is as big as it is because we demand it, and as corrupt as it is because we tolerate it. Thus the real hard goal, which could take a few generations to accomplish, is to educate our populace – to reform the culture from the ground up. I am proud to say that both my livelihood and my hobbies contribute to this hard work. Only by improving our culture will we get the right people to even attempt running for office in the first place. Until then, two years and five billion dollars worth of campaigning at its best yields us Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

    And what sort of choice is that anyway? In too many important ways, the two parties are two sides of the same coin. Yet this does not, as many cynics believe, imply that elections don’t matter. We need to care about the guy in the Oval Office because that individual sets the tone of our political culture and influences the legislative agenda.The efforts of grass roots reformers – the people doing the hard work of trying to educate and fix the culture – can be amplified or diminished based on this legislative tone and the decisions of the Supreme Court.

    Thus I base my vote on one question: which candidate will do less harm to the work I am doing now to create the sort of society in which I wish to live? The alternative that most people choose is to base their vote on specific issues.

    People who vote based on issues tend to fall into one of two groups; Fixers, and Ideologues. Fixers take a non-ideological approach toward figuring out their vote. They may be registered to one party or another, but they are not married to them. Undecided and independent voters come from this group. They approach the task of voting as though it were a puzzle to solve. One candidate is the right answer and the others are wrong. If they select wrong and the wrong guy is elected, they think, the country will deteriorate.

    Ideologues, by contrast, are often very partisan and rarely “undecided”. They subscribe to an ideology, like liberalism, conservatism, socialism, or capitalism. This gives them the right answer to begin with unlike the fixers, and so rather than try to figure out the right policies to match with a candidate, they try to match a candidate to their ideology, the ideology of course dictating the right policies. For ideologues, elections are about working to establish their ideology.

    The Fixer approach is impractical because candidates are not merely the sum of their campaign promises. At best, once elected, a president is able to accomplish a fraction of their agenda, and only after months of compromises, repackages, and backroom dealing. This is why “single issue voters” are so foolish. You have no way of knowing whether or not the candidate will accomplish something tangible, compromise in some unforgiveable way, or flat out change his position, as Obama did on gay marriage.

    Furthermore, Fixers are misguided because elections are not puzzles. There is no right or wrong answer out of context. The question is not “who is the right answer?” but rather “what sort of society suits me?”

    Ideologues are even more misguided for the simple fact that modern presidents are militantly anti-ideological. Consider all the Commanders in Chief since World War II. Not one is a consistent proponent of contemporary liberalism, conservatism, libertarianism, or any other “ism”, save possibly pragmatism. The partisan, a lower form of ideologue who substitutes a political party for an ideology, forgets the liberal Barack Obama’s record on Guantanamo Bay and marijuana, the conservative George Bush’s record on spending, all of Clinton’s compromises, Reagan’s love of interventionism, Nixon’s magic eight ball domestic policy, and so on and so forth.

    This is not to say that presidents do not advance ideologies. The problem is that the manner in which they may advance an ideology is completely unpredictable. For one, a president’s ability to willfully advance an ideology is largely a function of their congress. What’s more, modern presidents necessarily have to present themselves as non-ideological centrists in order to get elected. Pursuing an openly ideological agenda can cost a president a second term and his party’s control of congress. The president’s actions may also end up redefining their party’s ideologies in undesirable ways, as many religious liberals and non-interventionist small government conservatives well know.

    So how do we vote based on the larger question of society? For me, the question of “what sort of society suits me?” is best framed as a dichotomy between freedom and security.

    When I say security in this context, I mean both physical security from foreign and domestic threats, as well as material security in terms of public welfare, healthcare, and other tangible goods. Much as politicians wish to argue the contrary, we cannot have a perfect balance of both freedom and security. A flawlessly administered government can have a lot of both, however in practice we have to live with tradeoffs. If we want the freedom to own guns we have to live with less security from gun violence. If we want the freedom to make our own healthcare decisions then we have to live with less security of being insured and covered for all emergencies. Of the two, freedom is more demanding, requiring an educated populace and personal accountability as an ingrained cultural norm. Security grants “freedom from want” and less inequality, but has the tradeoff of requiring individuals to tolerate authorities making decisions on their behalf.

    The ideologue claims that only one side of the dichotomy is “right”, (anarchy, communism, socialism, libertarianism, etc.) or that some particular mixture is “right”, (liberalism, conservatism, etc.) but this still ignores the question of values – the “ought” regarding an appropriate society. This is a basic problem with subscribing to an ideology. No ideology has a perfect reference to reality. If we study history objectively, we can conclude that some ideologies more accurately describe reality than others. In practice however, ideologues tend to subordinate reality to their dogma, endlessly rationalizing and contorting their minds to make the facts fit.

    The capitalist ideologue is wrong to say that socialism cannot work; it works fine in places like Norway, so long as you are willing to take all of the tradeoffs – the loss of freedoms and high taxation – that go with such a system. Finland’s socialized education system works splendidly for that society and could work in the United States too, so long as our students, teachers, and parents buy into their culture and tolerate fewer freedoms, such as the freedom to have private schools. Cuba famously has near 100% adult literacy. It also outlaws homeschooling. Similarly the socialist or liberal ideologue is wrong to say that capitalism is fundamentally broken; places like Hong Kong and Singapore show that private enterprise serves the people just fine. In other words, so long as the people accept the system and all of its tradeoffs, it can work swimmingly.

    When I think about voting or any work with political implications for my homeland, I think in terms of the larger question of the society I want to see for myself and my children. My values, derived from my education, observation, experience, and reflection, heavily center on freedom. I do not want society to take responsibility for my income, my welfare, my relative wealth compared to others, my health insurance, my retirement, or my education. Individual responsibility for these values is the basic state of all humans, and it requires an act of faith beyond my capabilities to trust the artifices of man’s society to remove this responsibility. I intend to raise my children to have the same sense of personal accountability. My wish is to live in a society where this belief is taken for granted – where the idea that it is appropriate to depend on government redistribution and central planning is seen as immoral.

    My preference is of course subjective, however there is also a practical reason for opposing a security-based society. Such a political system demands vast bureaucracies at local, state, and federal levels, staffed by hundreds of thousands of government employees. It requires that those bureaucracies be properly administrated and efficiently run. Even if 100% of those government workers are supremely competent and dedicated, the system requires proper political leadership; if the wrong politicians are in office, those bureaucracies can be underfunded, ineptly restructured, improperly regulated, given unrealistic mandates, or all together scrapped in some wave of “reform.”

    In other words, the security society only works if you elect the right politicians. If you aren’t careful a George W. Bush might come around with a bad idea like “No Child Left Behind”, and create new problems for large public systems like education. To make things consistently work, you need to keep electing Barack Obamas, each of whom will support the public systems reliably, maintain predictable standards and funding, and, if necessary, cut the red tape and push aside the bureaucracy in times of emergency. The security-society is ruled by men, not law.

    What’s more, large centrally-managed government systems are extremely slow to adapt and difficult to reform. Unconsciously they come to make justifying their own existence a greater priority than accomplishing their stated objective. This is why when we think of the word “public” to describe schools, unions, and other institutions, we don’t generally associate innovation or accountability with the term.

    In the security society, reforming or improving government-managed systems is slow and painful. Individuals only get the opportunity to directly influence the management of those systems every two years (elections). The rest of the time, the best they can do is write letters or protest. This is because the services are managed with tax dollars, which are collected coercively.

    Say you oppose the pedagogical and hiring practices of your state’s education system. You could literally spend decades protesting, voting down budgets, and writing letters, with zero meaningful change. All the while the system happily takes your tax dollars (whether you have kids or not) forcing you to work to support that which you oppose.

    With private systems you can immediately and at any time vote for reform and effect change by simply not using the service. Unhappy with how a bank is managing your retirement funds? Switch banks. Unhappy with a private school or insurer? Take your business elsewhere. This is of course impossible with Social Security, where the taxpayers have to hope that the right politicians are elected and that those politicians make responsible decisions with the expropriated funds.

    This is the essence of my practical objection to a security-based society. By having the public sector and politically managed systems drive the economy, these societies are, ironically, less secure in a number of ways. This is not to say that the freedom-based society is without flaws. Dealing primarily with private sector service providers demands a great deal of time spent comparing and researching to find the appropriate one for your needs. We take no issue with this for things like food and clothing, where the market has provided abundance at all price ranges. What I wish for is a society that consistently seeks the same level of freedom to choose for most other activities.

    This is why I am voting for Mitt Romney. Not because he will magically bring this about, but rather because he will do less violence to my efforts to move society in that direction. Barack Obama, by contrast, consciously or unconsciously, seeks to quickly push us in the direction of the security society. If your values lead you to support the security society, then Obama is clearly the man for you.

    Unfortunately the vast majority of the electorate subscribes to the ideologue approach to voting. What’s worse is that a large percentage of these voters are partisans. Partisans are worse than ideologues because they do not even really care about ideas and policies but instead just support a party. Partisans are easily identified by their hypocrisy. Republicans who defend Bush’s growth of government but criticize Obama for the same thing are a good example. Sadly, a large percentage of Blacks are also partisans.

    The fact that the electorate is primarily made up of partisans and ideologues explains why candidates need not even bother campaigning in the majority of states. A more responsible media could do a lot to elevate much of the population from partisan to ideologue status. A better education system could help more ideologues develop the critical thinking skills to identify where their ideology does not accurately describe reality.

    But we are a long way off from seeing a strong education system or responsible media. As a result, I am left to choose between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Polls suggest that Obama will likely win re-election. If this comes to pass, it may push back the dream of a freedom-based society another generation. This will depend on a number of factors. My intention either way is to continue working toward that dream. I have lived abroad in the past, and because of concerns I have about my son’s education, I will have to consider living abroad again if Obama’s policies become intolerable. Nevertheless I am not ready to give up on what America can be.

    That is my reason for voting for Mitt Romney.

    Election 2012: I. Why We Should Vote For Mitt Romney

    (This is the first of five posts I will put up over the next two weeks, exploring my thoughts on the Presidential election. Parts 1 and 2 will be reasons to vote for and against Mitt Romney; Parts 3 and 4 will be reasons to vote for and against Barack Obama. Part 5 will wrap up. Keep in mind, this is my thinking as we go through the conventions. It’s likely that things will change between now and Election Day. A few guidelines before we start.

    1. I’m not a Republican anymore. I define myself as a conservative-libertarian but I’m not convinced those interests are served by the GOP in its present form. If I thought electing Ralph Nader would be best for this country, I’d endorse him.

    2. I’m not going to endorse that idiot Ralph Nader. Just so we’re clear.

    3. These posts are about the candidates themselves. “He’s not Obama” is not a reason to vote for Mitt Romney. “He’s not Mitt Romney” is not a reason to vote for Barack Obama. I’m sick of these “the other side can’t win” arguments. This is sort of a stream of consciousness as I think about both men.)

    So Mitt Romney is now the official nominee. I will say, going in, he would not be my top choice or even in my top 50. But of the weak field we had this year, he was the best option. And I don’t think he’d be a disaster if elected.

    So why should we vote for Mitt Romney? Well, here’s a few reasons off the top of my head:

    Repealing Obamacare: There are parts of Obamacare that are not horrible. There are slivers that could form part of a much more sensible healthcare reform. But we don’t get those parts; we get the whole convoluted overwrought thing. And, despite the CBO’s optimism, I’m convinced that the whole thing will make the healthcare system far worse, far more expensive and far more unaccountable. If Obama is re-elected, Obamacare — or some version of it — is here to stay. Electing Mitt is our best chance to get rid of it.

    Will Mitt Romney and the GOP repeal Obamcare? That’s the $716 billion question. Given current projections, doing so would inflate the near-term deficit. And, as I previously noted, there are parts of Obamacare that are popular. It will be very easy for the Democrats to demagogue throwing 25-year-olds off their parents’ insurance or restoring the ability of insurance companies to rescind coverage or deny coverage. The fact is that repealing Obamacare will throw millions out of insurance plans. Does the GOP have the stomach for that? Can they overcome an almost certain Democratic filibuster? There’s only one way to find out.

    Romney the Chameleon: Mitt is not an ideologue. He may sounds like one this year, but his history reveals a man centered on one idea: getting elected. And the only thing he wants more than to be elected is to be re-elected. To that end, he’ll say what the GOP wants to hear. But, in the end, he’s going to try to find things that work, even if the contradicts GOP canon (we all saw how well Bush fulfilled his promises). As we’ve seen before, he has no problem misrepresenting his policies. He’ll have no problem cutting Medicare while demagoguing Medicare cuts or raises taxes while saying he’s cutting them. Maybe an unprincipled man is just what this country needs.

    I’m not being sarcastic here; I’m being totally honest. Political principles can be very dangerous things, especially given the commitment of the GOP to some bad ideas (e.g., cutting taxes to fix the deficit; federal personhood; aggressive foreign policy). Someone who can placate the party base while pursuing doable practical policies can govern effectively. The question is going to be: How will Romney govern against how he has campaigned?

    Mitt is at least vaguely familiar with the private sector: Let’s not confuse running Bain Capital with starting a small business. But Mitt has made tough decisions — shuttering unprofitable factories, for instance — that are critical to a functional economy. He at least listens.

    I think Mitt also has a slightly better notion of what’s wrong with the economy — that we’re working out from under a huge pile of debt. Now he’s officially opposed the policies that could help, like Quantitative Easement. But if there is a candidate out there who understands that the government needs to quit trying to help and let things recover on their own, it’s Mitt.

    Only Nixon Could Go To China: This will be a recurring theme in these posts. The basic idea is that only a Republican can advance liberal ideas and only a Democrat can advance conservative ideas. The catch phrase reflect the reality of Nixon making nice with communist China. Had a liberal President made peace with China, he would have been pilloried for it. But because Nixon was such a staunch anti-communist, his detente was possible.

    We have seen this throughout the last twenty years. A Republican would never been able to get NAFTA or Welfare Reform passed or reined in government spending the way Bill Clinton did. A Democrat would have not been able to jack up spending and pass a zillion regulations the way Bush did. A Republican would not have been able to ramp up War on Terror excesses the way Obama has. They would have been pilloried by the opposition. Politicians do move in ways the other party opposes: Obama on gay marriage; Clinton on abortion; Bush on tax cuts. But there are a number of key issues where the opposition is simply too entrenched, the issues too easy to demagogue.

    There are a number of issues where this country needs to move “left”: the War on Drugs, medical marijuana, imprisonment and civil liberties. Obama can not move to the left on those issues; indeed, he’s gone hard right on all of them. But Mitt can. If there is any President who might back off of the War on Drugs, it’s going to have to be a “severe” Republican. In fact, Republicans like Chris Christie have been leading the charge on overhauling our drug laws. Hell, Mitt might even be able to make some market-oriented moves on global warming — as Bush did — instead of Obama’s cap-and-trade absurdity.

    The Abyss: One impression I’ve gotten over the last few days is that the GOP may be … may be … coming to their senses. Susanna Martinez, Nikki Haley, Paul Ryan, Chris Christie … there’s been a parade of people who are actually interested in governing. The tone has been negative … any campaign against an incumbent will be … but the venom of 2004 and 2008 seems very diminished.

    I worry that if Romney fails to win, the GOP will react by thinking they erred in going with a “RINO moderate” and go with some rockhead ideologue like Santorum or Bachmann. It’s nice that these people are principled. But it’s impossible to govern that way when the country is half Democrat and very concentrated on the center right.

    The Debt: Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan has put the debt issue front and center. There are some issues with Ryan’s plan: it doesn’t balance the budget for a long time and cuts taxes before we’ve gotten our debt under control. But electing Romney would be a clear sign that we will not put up with trillion dollar deficits.

    —–

    Anyway, discuss. But keep in mind this is about reasons to vote for Romney, not against Obama. I’ll put up that thread next week. What about Mitt Romney, specifically, excites you? What about Mitt Romney, specifically, makes you think he would be a good President? What about Mitt Romney, specifically, makes you think he can get the economy moving and balance the budget?

    Obama Legacy Fun Thread

    Jeezus:

    If you haven’t gotten enough of Barack Obama lecturing on constitutional law, just wait until you get a chance to read the White House’s take on presidential history. Rory Cooper at the Heritage Foundation was the first to notice that the Obama administration edited the official presidential histories on the White House website to include a blurb about Obama on the page dedicated to Ronald Reagan. Commentary’s Seth Mandel followed up and found numerous other examples:

    Every President since Coolidge has a blurb connecting them to Obama, except for Ford. Hot Air has the whole list. This is typical:

    President Herbert Hoover signed the bill founding the Department of Veterans Affairs July 21, 1930. President Obama is committed to making sure that the VA, the second-largest cabinet department, serves the needs of all veterans and provides a seamless transition from active duty to civilian life, and has directed his Administration to modernize the way health care is delivered and benefits are administered for our nation’s veterans. First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden launched Joining Forces to mobilize all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned.

    Now this isn’t an outrage or anything. And perhaps other Presidents did this too. But … really, it’s so petty and egotistical and so typical. They’re really having someone go through Presidential biographies and do this?

    I think the proper response to this is mockery. Viz, National Review:

    In the 12th Century B.C., Moses the Lawgiver delivered the Ten Commandments to the Israelites. President Obama the Lawgiver has added significantly to them, overseeing the enactment of a record number of new regulations.

    Use the comments for your suggestions. I’ll start with Gerald Ford, since they skipped him. In 1976, Gerald Ford said, “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford Administration.” Today, President Obama is working hard to make sure that there is Soviet — or at least Russian — Domination of Eastern Europe.

    Columbian Hookers

    By now, you’ve heard all the salacious details of our Secret Service agents partying with some legal Columbian hookers. As expected, Maggie McNeill has a good round-up of both the pearl-clutching hysteria in the media and the more reasoned response from libertarian quarters.

    Suffice it to say, the idea that this was something unusual or particularly dangerous is a bit far-fetched. I really can’t see our Secret Service compromising the President’s safety rather than have their legal whoring revealed. This crosses me as the latest, “Hey look, sex!” distraction from the economy.

    In fact, I would argue that seeing whores is a safer way for the Secret Service to get their jollies than picking up girls in bars. The thing about a hooker is that you know what she wants in exchange for sex: money. Women who don’t want money; who want, say access or secrets, are the danger. Do you remember the sex for secrets scandal of the 1980’s? That didn’t involve a hooker. It involved an amateur that a marine slept with and fell for and then exchanged classified information for access to.

    All that having been said, the Secret Service has rules. They specifically have rules about contacts with foreign nationals. And if these agents violated those rules, it doesn’t matter whether the rules were reasonable or not: they agreed to abide by them. If they broke them, they should be fired.

    But we can do that without our President and everyone else pulling grim faces about this “disgrace”. Amped-up men in dangerous jobs like to see working girls. That’s been true forever. Let’s not pretend it’s something new or unusual. And let’s not cater to the delusions of grandeur of the reporter who broke the story and now sees himself as the next Woodward and Bernstein.

    The Base Whines

    Liberal friends have been forwarding me this article that encapsulates all the recent Left Wing whining about Obama being too “moderate”. I’ll avoid quoting it extensively, since it’s simply too long-winded and long-haired. But the gist is that liberals hoped this was New Deal II — that Obama was stepping into an historic opportunity to remake the country — and he has failed to follow through.

    In contrast, when faced with the greatest economic crisis, the greatest levels of economic inequality, and the greatest levels of corporate influence on politics since the Depression, Barack Obama stared into the eyes of history and chose to avert his gaze. Instead of indicting the people whose recklessness wrecked the economy, he put them in charge of it. He never explained that decision to the public — a failure in storytelling as extraordinary as the failure in judgment behind it. Had the president chosen to bend the arc of history, he would have told the public the story of the destruction wrought by the dismantling of the New Deal regulations that had protected them for more than half a century. He would have offered them a counternarrative of how to fix the problem other than the politics of appeasement, one that emphasized creating economic demand and consumer confidence by putting consumers back to work. He would have had to stare down those who had wrecked the economy, and he would have had to tolerate their hatred if not welcome it. But the arc of his temperament just didn’t bend that far.

    Most of that is untrue, actually, but we’ll give Westen enough rope to hang himself. His specific breaking point was the stimulus and his complaint that Obama didn’t make it bigger. Let’s push aside the Keynsian bullshit for a moment. Let’s push aside that we’ve had $6 trillion in stimulus spending, at least half of which was specifically advertised as stimulus. Let’s instead focus on what is brought up in this masterful deconstruction of Westen’s whining: a bigger stimulus was simply not possible.

    Obama speechified all he could. He dealt as much as he could. He was beating the stimulus drum daily. But this isn’t, as McArdle often reminds us, an episode of the West Wing. Neither the American People nor the Republican Party capitulates after the President gives a great speech to the sound of violins. A huge number of Americans disagreed with the stimulus. And so Obama got what he could. The same applies to the deficit and to Obamacare — both of which have sent the Left Wing base into paroxysms of tears. Obama got what he could get. This is the difference between governing in reality and governing on TV.

    (If this all sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve been saying the same thing to the conservative base lately: politics is the art of the possible. We’re never going to get 100% of what we want. But we can move the ball in our direction. Obama understands this; his supporters and his critics … don’t.)

    Westen also, as is typical of any political base, assumes that Obama’s opinions are identical to his own. This is especially tempting for liberals when dealing with a politician is also a minority — there is the intrinsic assumption that he must be very very liberal. It never occurs to him that Obama may disagree with the base on certain issues. That’s the problem with getting wrapped up in politicians’ words instead of their actions. The latter tells you what someone really wants; the former only who he is selling it to.

    The whining on the Left has gotten so bad that some are even saying that Hillary would be better. I’ll let TNC take that apart:

    She is “tougher.” A nebulous existence in the fever dreams of frustrated liberals tends to do that to you. Everybody’s “tougher” before they’re in the actual knife fight. I could just as easily see an alternative fever dream–one launched by President Hillary Clinton political failings, which she surely would have had, in which another camp of liberals look fondly back on how the Obama of hope and change would have altered the political calculus via magic.

    The handsome gentleman at the office with whom you share no bathrooms is also “sexier” than your husband. We’re all sexy to someone until the years find us explaining how, precisely, we allowed Junior to have Oreos and potato chips for dinner.

    Obama could give the impassioned angry speeches that Westen and his fellow travelers want. And it would alienate moderates and play into the picture of him as an “angry black man”. But he understands that speaking softly (or not so softly) and getting most of what you want is better than shouting down the rooftops and getting nothing.

    If this sounds like I’m praising Obama, it’s because I am. I’ve said this a million times: Obama’s opponents, both Right and Left, severely underestimate his political skills. He has gotten the biggest change in healthcare law in forty years, gotten trillions in “stimulus” spending, advanced a number of liberal goals … and still commands about 45% in the polls in the midst of a dreadful economy. He may even, to judge by the polls, have beaten the GOP on the debt issue and will, in two years, at last grant the Left their ultimate over-riding wish — higher taxes on the evil rich.

    I wish George W. Bush had been such an “obamateur”.

    The reason he has been so successful in advancing a liberal agenda is because Obama, being of the Left, understands that whining defines them. They got huge spending increases under Bush, even bigger ones under Obama and they’re still complaining about “underfunded schools” and “not enough stimulus” and “gutted” social programs. There will never come a point when the Left will stop whining and only a fool would set placating them as his goal. And the recent spate of “wither New Deal II” tripe only confirms this.

    Haven’t some of us been saying so?

    What you ask? Well, that the real problem is the financial obligations to keep up the socialist bullshit:

    When adding in all of the money owed to cover future liabilities in entitlement programs the US is actually in worse financial shape than Greece and other debt-laden European countries, Pimco’s Bill Gross told CNBC Monday. Much of the public focus is on the nation’s public debt, which is $14.3 trillion. But that doesn’t include money guaranteed for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, which comes to close to $50 trillion, according to government figures. The government also is on the hook for other debts such as the programs related to the bailout of the financial system following the crisis of 2008 and 2009, government figures show. Taken together, Gross puts the total at “nearly $100 trillion,” that while perhaps a bit on the high side, places the country in a highly unenviable fiscal position that he said won’t find a solution overnight.

    Lets’ break this revelation down…

    Current US debt, yes, the same one Obama wants raised pronto so the left can keep spending like it’s other people’s money, is at $14.3 trillion. That’s the debt the Chinese recently accused us of already defaulting on. But that debt figure seems dwarfed by the $50 trillion in guaranteed Medicare, Medicaid, and SS outlays of $50 trillion! And that’s according to the government’s own numbers, which means you can likely double that freaking number based on past performance. $50 trillion! Wow? Is this adjusted for Obamacare? I bet not.

    Then we have the bailout of the financial sector for which we get no details or numbers. Wonder how much of that is money we had to pay because the democrats wanted to play Santa Claus with homeownership, directly to the financial institutions that put their necks on the chopping block giving loans to bad risks, and how much more to bail out Freddie & Fannie, which they used to launder the shitty loans through before sending them to be auctioned for primo dollars on the credit default swap market? Last I heard Freddie & Fannie are going to stick us with anywhere from $1 to $65 trillion, but Gross seems to think the number is in the high thirty trillion from that $100 trillion debt obligation. This is scary stuff!

    To think that we can reduce that within the space of a year or two is not a realistic assumption,” Gross said in a live interview. “That’s much more than Greece, that’s much more than almost any other developed country. We’ve got a problem and we have to get after it quickly.”

    Worse than Greece? Ouch! And I cry bullshit! Debbie Wasserman-Shultz says president Obama has turned the economy around! Nothing to worry about people. All is peachy.