November 06, 2012
It's a Conspiracy, I Tell Ya!!!
A Pennsylvania electronic voting machine has been taken out of service after being captured on video changing a vote for President Obama into one for Mitt Romney, NBC News has confirmed.
Obviously, this means Mitt Romney is trying to steal the election. With his mind....
Never mind the inconvenient fact that there were several reports of uncalibrated voting machines switching Romney votes to votes for Obama earlier this week.
It happened in Colorado:
The Colorado Secretary of State is investigating a situation in Pueblo County, Colorado.
Lindsay Watts reports some voters say the machines automatically switched their votes from Mitt Romney to President Obama.
As reported by the Marion Star, voting problems sprung up with the touch screen voting machines. When Mitt Romney was selected, Barack Obama was highlighted instead.
Joan Stevens was one of several early voters at the polls on Monday. But when Stevens tried to cast her ballot for president, she noticed a problem.
Upon selecting "Mitt Romney" on the electronic touch screen, Barack Obama's name lit up.
It took Stevens three tries before her selection was accurately recorded.
"You want to vote for who you want to vote for, and when you can't it's irritating," Stevens said.
When Stevens reported the problem, she was initially told that the "machine had been having problems all day." If the machine had been having problems, it should have been taken offline. Continuing to use a machine that is faulty is irresponsible.
This is why voting requires the participation of a human being, hopefully one with a functioning brain. The good news is that now that one of these machines has been observed changing a Dem vote into a Republican one, the issue has the full and undivided attention of the unbiased professionals at MSNBC.
A new study from the Pew Research Center found that from mid-August through mid-October, MSNBC's coverage of Mitt Romney and Fox News' coverage of President Barack Obama was drastically negative. Take a look at this incredible graphic from Pew, which shows the split between positive and negative coverage of each candidate:
MSNBC, obviously, has an even more absurd split. On average, for every single positively toned clip they aired of Romney during that time period, they aired 23 negatively toned clips. Fox had about an 8-to-1 negative-to-positive split.
"These made them unusual among channels or outlets that identified themselves as news organizations," Pew deadpanned.
Thank God the press are on this important late-breaking news story. We feel better, knowing we can trust them to report the news honestly and hold nothing back that voters might need to know to cast an informed vote.
October 20, 2012
Ryan vs. Biden Cage Match
October 10, 2012
If You're Not Depressed Yet, You're Not Paying Attention
Snarky thing that we are, we would not have thought it possible to overestimate the ignorance of the average citizen:
...multiple choice surveys showed that only about 32% of the public knew that Paul Ryan was a member of the House of Representatives. These polls were taken before he was nominated for the vice presidency but after he had been a major figure in American politics for several years. Other multiple choice questions reveal massive ignorance about the distribution of federal spending. Back in 2009, a multiple-choice survey found that only 24% knew that “cap and trade” is an environmental program, even though it had just passed the House of Representatives (I cite the data in this article). And there’s many other examples where those came from.
Moreover, if open-ended survey items overstate ignorance, multiple-choice questions often understate it, because ignorant people will sometimes get the right answer by guessing. In an age of standardized testing, many people are used to the idea that they should guess on a survey question if they don’t know the right answer. And some prefer that option to admitting ignorance. If there are 4 options on a multiple-choice question, random guessing gives you a 25% chance of getting the right answer, and your odds go up if there are only 2 or 3 options.
We were reminded of this blast from the past:
Why is Bill Clinton still president? It seemed rather unlikely that he would last more than a week or two when the news of his affair with a White House intern surfaced. His survival exemplifies a crucial and almost certainly insurmountable problem with modern democracy, one with vast implications for the ration-ality of public policy: the problem of public ignorance.
The key to understanding President Clinton’s survival is to keep in mind his conversations with political consultant Dick Morris when the scandal broke. At first Clinton proposed an apology to the American people, and Morris took an overnight poll to see how it would be received. The poll showed that although a substantial minority of those surveyed condemned the affair, most did not think it warranted resignation or removal from office. But the majority of those surveyed demanded the president’s voluntary or involuntary removal if he had committed perjury or obstructed justice.
In the end, of course, the public did not support Clinton’s removal, despite credible evidence of perjury and obstruction of justice.
Whoever said, "The mind is a terrible thing" wasn't kidding.
October 04, 2012
“Dear Adolph, thank you for your generous donation….”
According to the Washington Examiner, the President may be in for another October surprise:
President Obama reelection campaign, rattled by his Wednesday night debate performance, could be in for even worse news. According to knowlegable sources, a national magazine and a national web site are preparing a blockbuster donor scandal story.
Sources told Secrets that the Obama campaign has been trying to block the story. But a key source said it plans to publish the story Friday or, more likely, Monday.
According to the sources, a taxpayer watchdog group conducted a nine-month investigation into presidential and congressional fundraising and has uncovered thousands of cases of credit card solicitations and donations to Obama and Capitol Hill, allegedly from unsecure accounts, and many from overseas. That might be a violation of federal election laws.
The Obama campaign has received hundreds of millions in small dollar donations, many via credit card donations through their website. On Thursday, the campaign announced a record September donor haul of $150 million.
I tell ya, it's like deja vu all over again.
Update: via Eric Hines, the folks at Powerline are all over the story. In the spirit of redistribution and egalitarianism that has come to characterize the Age of Obama, we shamelessly swiped the revised title of this post from them. Why should they be allowed to selfishly hoard all the good lines?
Lying Liars. They just keep on lying. That's what they do. That's ALL they do....
September 25, 2012
A Compelling Reason to Vote for Romney
If your own sense of self preservation's not enough, we beg you: do it for The Children:
Madonna offered a profanity-laced endorsement of President Obama at her concert Monday night, which involved the singer stripping down to her underwear to reveal the president's name written on her body.
“You all better vote for f---ing Obama okay,” she told the crowd at Washington's Verizon center.
Later in the show, Madonna took off her shirt and pulled down her pants to show she had “OBAMA” written in all capital letters across her lower back.
“When Obama is in the White House for a second term I'll take it all off,” she said to cheers and whistles from the audience.
If Naomi Wilson's talking hoo-ha makes a campaign commercial, we're moving to Phrance.
OMG CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS????
Al dente, baybee...
Serious stories like these change elections, people. Don't forget you heard it here first.
Update: OK, sure... fine. We see how you are, making serious points that make us think.
September 12, 2012
There's nothing we enjoy more than a deftly worded bit of equal opportunity snark:
The past several weeks have made one thing crystal-clear: Our country faces unmitigated disaster if the Other Side wins.
No reasonably intelligent person can deny this. All you have to do is look at the way the Other Side has been running its campaign. Instead of focusing on the big issues that are important to the American People, it has fired a relentlessly negative barrage of distortions, misrepresentations, and flat-out lies.
Just look at the Other Side’s latest commercial, which take a perfectly reasonable statement by the candidate for My Side completely out of context to make it seem as if he is saying something nefarious. This just shows you how desperate the Other Side is and how willing it is to mislead the American People.
The Other Side also has been hammering away at My Side to release certain documents that have nothing to do with anything, and making all sorts of outrageous accusations about what might be in them. Meanwhile, the Other Side has stonewalled perfectly reasonable requests to release its own documents that would expose some very embarrassing details if anybody ever found out what was in them. This just shows you what a bunch of hypocrites they are.
Naturally, the media won’t report any of this. Major newspapers and cable networks jump all over anything they think will make My Side look bad. Yet they completely ignore critically important and incredibly relevant information that would be devastating to the Other Side if it could ever be verified.
Slices like an effing hammer, it does.
September 07, 2012
Republican Girlz Gone Wild
In my Inbox, from a Dem co-worker.
He'd better start running now... :p
August 15, 2012
Questions for the Upcoming Presidential Debates
Pure. Comedy. Gold. Democrats don't want to discuss the recommendations of Obama's Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform during the debates:
In the original letter, Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Joe Lieberman, (I-Conn.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) asked the debate commission to devote “specific and extensive attention to the question of how the candidates would get our nation’s fiscal house in order during the first debate dedicated to domestic policy.”
“Specifically, we request that you ask the presidential candidates which of the recommendations of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform they would adopt as part of their plan to reduce the deficit,” they wrote.
But that caused Reps. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) to cry foul, writing in their own letter to the debate commission on Tuesday that although the Simpson-Bowles commission’s plan “may contain proposals helpful to our recovery…to hold it out as the only pathway to fiscal responsibility and economic success is foolish and wrong.”
By this reasoning, the Ryan Plan must be off limits too. After all, though it "may contain proposals helpful to our recovery" (such as pushing Granny off the nearest cliff), it would be foolish and wrong to pretend it's the only pathway to fiscal responsibility and economic success.
Other topics expected to be off the table:
2. The economic repercussions of Sequestration, and the Labor Department's shameless directive to federal contractors ordering them not to WARN employees that layoffs might occur (in violation of federal law).
3. Why the Department of Defense is only now planning for sequestration, and perhaps more importantly, why they appear to be the only department doing so.
4. Why, if jobs are this administration's latest #1 priority, the President's Jobs Council hasn't met for 6 months.
Serious debate questions pre-approved by the DNC:
How many helpless senior citizens has Paul Ryan really murdered?
Non-consensual haircuts: alternative lifestyle choice or early warning for sociopathic personality disorders?
How Mitt Romney's dog really feels about global warming.
an Obama bundler a Bain executive lays off one of the near-poor and there's no journalist around to cry foul, did it still happen on Mitt's watch?
In your opinion, at which moment in the last 4 years did the rise of the oceans slow and the planet begin to heal?
June 27, 2012
"On The Other Hand...."
We often make gestures with one or both hands while we are talking with someone. Hand gestures during speech help listeners understand, but they also help the speakers think clearly, for example by helping organize thoughts in their heads and expressing them clearly with words. Hand gestures during speech also say something about the emotions experienced by the speakers and how much they care about what they are saying..
Most people preferentially use their right hands for writing, eating and other skilled manual activities. About 10% of people are left-handed, and very few are ambidextrous, which means they use either hand equally well. Preference for hand use is generally biologically determined, appears shortly after birth and is quite stable across ages and situations, although people can be trained to use their less favorite hand. Hand preference is linked to asymmetrical brain activity. Right-handed people mainly use the left side of their brain for speech and other cognitive and emotional functions, while left-handed people do more with the right side of their brains.
A recent study conducted by two psychologists in the Netherlands demonstrated that President Barack Obama, who is left-handed, mainly gestures with his left hand while giving a speech about something that is important to him and that he feels good about, while he tends to use his right hand while he is talking about less important or more negative topics. Former President George W. Bush and former presidential candidate John McCain, who are both Republican and right-handed, showed the opposite pattern: They gestured more with their right hands while they were talking about important or positive things. The likely next Republican candidate to the White House, Mitt Romney, is right-handed, too.
So during the forthcoming presidential debates, biology can actually tell us what’s on the candidates’ minds while they are discussing the future of our country. If you want to know what’s really important to each candidate and what they really care about versus just pretend to, pay attention to which hand they wave while speaking
June 06, 2012
Angry Rhetoric Alert!!!
The Editorial Staff wonder whether we'll be seeing a slew of overwrought, alarmist op-eds about how "violent rhetoric" leads to violent attacks that hurt innocent people?
We're guessing not. Pure. Comedy. Gold.
June 05, 2012
Color Me Über Shocked....
Brace yourself: Wisconsin Democrats say they are preparing for the event that the hotly contested recall race could drag on for weeks, or even longer.
Floating the prospect of a recount is, of course, a message that bolsters the party’s claims that the race is closer than people think and that it will go down to the wire — despite polls showing Walker with the lead.
...If a recount is requested after Tuesday’s election, the process couldn’t even begin until the election results are certified in another two weeks, said Reid Magney, a spokesman for Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board.
In the Supreme Court race recount last year, the recount of the April 5 ballots lasted more than a month, with the Wisconsin elections board finally certifying the results on May 23.
On the positive side the local legal industry may get its own mini-stimulus out of this:
...the party will have more than 440 lawyers in the field on Tuesday “doing election protection activities but also tasked with recount preparation, making sure that we know where absentee ballots are at, making sure that we have a strong handle on what’s happening out there.”
It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good :p
May 15, 2012
Taking "Obama Everywhere" a Bit Too Far....
Back in 2009, the Obama Permanant Re-Election Committee came up with what may well turn out to be this administration's signature public policy initiative: the loopy "Obama Everywhere" campaign. It wasn't long before even stalwart leg tinglers were thoroughly sick of it (and him):
"Stick out your tongue."
I did so, and the dentist wrapped some gauze around it and said, "I need to explain myself about the public option."
Stunned, I raised myself up in the chair and looked. It was Barack Obama.
"I'm both for it and against it," the president said. I tried to bolt but he had me by the tongue. I squirmed and cursed like Rahm Emanuel, and finally he had to let go. I ran from the exam room, pausing in the outer office to make my next appointment but the receptionist looked a lot like Barack Obama and so I kept on moving. Hitting the street, I jumped a cab. "The Washington Post," I said, "and step on it."
"You got it, buddy," the driver said -- and turned around. It was Barack Obama. "Let me tell you something," he said. "The public option is not what it sounds like. It’s not socialism. This is what I tried to explain on "Meet the Press," "Face the Nation," "State of the Union," "This Week With George Stephanopoulos," Jorge Ramos on Univision and, I think, "Sesame Street," although I may not have done that one yet.”
The cab stopped for a light and I opened the door and ran. I did the couple of blocks to my office in record time, and when I got there I switched on my favorite public affairs show, "The View.” I couldn’t believe my eyes. ...I grabbed for the remote control and desperately searched for something else.
I flipped past Barack Obama standing hip high in water doing a stand-up for the Weather Channel, and then someone named Cesar Obama who was whispering to a Mexican Chihuahua about single-payer programs, and then I saw -- I swear I did -- Barack Obama in the arms of Tom DeLay on “Dancing With the Stars," and he was singing a soft song about the uninsured.
Fast forward to 2012. Seemingly not content with overexposing himself in the present, the Campaigner in Chief has discovered a mysteriously underserved venue that has yet to be permeated by Obama Everywhere...
I’m sometimes amazed at the depth of the narcissism this President suffers under, but this particular example has to take the cake:The Heritage Foundation’s Rory Cooper tweeted that Obama had casually dropped his own name into Ronald Reagan’s official biography on www.whitehouse.gov, claiming credit for taking up the mantle of Reagan’s tax reform advocacy with his “Buffett Rule” gimmick. My first thought was, he must be joking. But he wasn’t—it turns out Obama has added bullet points bragging about his own accomplishments to the biographical sketches of every single U.S. president since Calvin Coolidge (except, for some reason, Gerald Ford).
This might seem a bit... oh, I don't know... excessive? Until you recall that we're talking about a guy who wrote not one but two autobiographies during his twenties, before he had actually done anything worth writing about.
The first female/black/gay/Hispanic President is now the first President in history to go back in time and insert himself into the records of his predecessors. It truly *is* all about 'Bam.
May 11, 2012
Mitt Romney: Homeopathic* Hair Bandit from Heck
Imagine our deep unsurprise this morning to find Memeorandum lit up like the 4th of July over the bombshell revelation that what young Mitt Romney really wanted to be when he grew up was Vidal Sassoon. We know this because the WaPo, deeply concerned at the possibility of having overlooked some vast, untapped motherlode of journalistic irrelevance, has offered up this Pulitzer-worthy feat of investigative reportage:
Mitt Romney returned from a three-week spring break in 1965 to resume his studies as a high school senior at the prestigious Cranbrook School. Back on the handsome campus, studded with Tudor brick buildings and manicured fields, he spotted something he thought did not belong at a school where the boys wore ties and carried briefcases. John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it.
“He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann’s recollection. Mitt, the teenage son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber’s look, Friedemann recalled.
The solution was obvious. Young Romney, showing early signs of the
sociopathic tendencies breezy leadership style that would one day shower him with undeserved race, gender, and class privileges, grabbed a pair of scissors, rounded up a few classmates, and...did Lauber's hair. Sadly, this was not to be Young Mitt's last foray into the wild and woolly world of non-consensual makeovers, though the obvious connection to Barack Obama's startling evolution on gay marriage may require a bit of explaining:
It turns out Mitt Romney probably wasn’t discriminating against John Lauber for being gay when he cut his hair off in high school. Romney says he doesn’t remember the incident but it looks like cutting hair was just something he liked to do. Almost like a sick hobby.
From a Washington Post story published in April:As a kid in Michigan, Sidney Barthwell Jr., a high school classmate, recalled Romney as a prankster driving doughnuts in snowy parking lots. At Stanford, he lured rival University of California students into a trap in which his buddies “shaved their heads and painted them red,” according to a 1970 speech at Brigham Young University by his father, George Romney.
What are we to make of this sudden metamorphosis from socially awkward, goody two-shoes/humorless automaton to seething, homophobic gang leader? To put it mildly, there seems to be a bit of a dispute about which narrative we're to believe this week. Is Romney more like Melanie Wilkes or Scarlett O'Hara? Wendy, or Peter Pan? Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?
A more appropriate question might be, why do we feel the need to oversimplify news stories to the point of absurdity; to shoehorn them into a one size fits all mold that explains everything from a candidate's Weltanschauung to where he comes down on the all important boxers-vs-briefs debate?
A number of things jump out at me here.
1. Seldom has a news story offered so many people who clearly have neither read nor understood Lord of the Flies the chance to showcase their ignorance. William Goldman's novel was set on a deserted island where a group of schoolboys, abruptly severed from civilization, struggle to recreate society from the ground up.
What this has to do with the behavior of a group of schoolboys in a tony private boarding school run by adults apparently need not be explained (the eerie parallels being self-evidently self evident).
In my junior year of high school, I moved to Virginia and my parents placed me at a former country day school. The notion that there is any similarity between a private school where students wear ties and follow stricter rules than their public school compatriots and a deserted island with no adults and no rules is frankly delusional.
The usual aim of such schools is to socialize their students: to teach them a uniform set of values and standards. This was so in the late 70s and was even more so in 1965, a time when rock and roll stars kept their hair short and performed in coats and ties. Non-conformity was not a prized attribute, as this author quickly learned, having spent most of her junior year trying to get kicked out of a similar
prison environment. If you're determined to throw out a literary allusion, this novel might be a better choice.
2. What you make of this story will likely depend on two things:
* Whether you believe isolated incidents from one's teen years accurately predict an adult's character.
* How you feel about Mitt Romney.
I don't like bullying, but I'm not sure this meets the definition of bullying. What it is, if true, is bad enough: a group of teens decided for reasons we'll never know that it would be funny to gang up on an outsider and cut his hair - possibly to make him fit in, possibly because they could get away with it, possibly as some kind of weird bonding thing, possibly because he was different, or effeminate, or gay. The thing is, we'll never know, will we? But that won't stop us from projecting our imagined motives onto the participants after the fact.
Either way, as Slate's Emily Bazelon (presumably not a Romney fan) observes, it wasn't a nice thing to do:
Let’s assume that the details five other people (most but not all of them Democrats) keenly recall are true. How bad is this, as an example of bullying? Was this just the sort of thing that went on at boarding schools in the 1960s? Or does it show a troubling lack of empathy on the part of Romney? The short answer is that it’s both.
Slate founder Michael Kinsley graduated from Cranbrook in 1968, overlapping with Romney, and remembers the school as fairly progressive. He put the story about Romney into the category of things teenage boys do that they’re later ashamed of—not beyond the bounds of Cranbrook’s culture in those days, if also not good. “He missed an opportunity,” Kinsley said. “If he could go back, he’d have broken up that group rather than leading it.”
In lashing out at kids who were perceived as effeminate, Romney wasn’t alone. Horowitz recounts that when Romney shouted “Atta girl!” at another closeted gay student who tried to speak up in English class, he was using language of the sort even teachers employed. Kinsley says that’s plausible but not typical.
Technically speaking, the Post account doesn’t make Romney a bully. The academic definition of bullying is verbal or physical abuse that involves a power imbalance and that’s also repeated. We don’t have evidence that Romney went after Lauber more than once.
Teen boys and girls are known for doing stunningly callous things to each other. Girls ostracize each other, spread gossip, and destroy the reputations of other girls they dislike. The aggression of boys usually takes a more physical form: pushing, shoving, hazing. But there's another component to this story that has received little attention: society's changing gender roles.
If we were to transport students and teachers from the 1960s into today's classrooms, they would be like fish out of water. Boys of my generation were expected to be tough, to fight back, to stand up for themselves, to hide their feelings and ruthlessly suppress "feminine" emotions like tenderness, sympathy, compassion. Boys who failed to do these things were labeled sissies or Mama's boys. Men in charge of young boys behaved in ways that to modern eyes seem quite brutal, often using ridicule, shame, and intimidation to curb their youthful high spirits and toughen their skins.
One need only look at the startling evolution of military training to see how things have changed. In the 1960s it was not uncommon for discipline problems to be solved by taking the offender behind the nearest Quanset hut for an impromptu thumping. These days, such behavior would land a drill instructor in the nearest brig. Adult men complain about "blaming and shaming" behavior, labeling once traditional behavior as misandry that scars the souls of young boys.
How much sense would it make to go back in time and apply that modern label (misandry) to what was then considered traditionally masculine behavior? Not much, I'm thinking.
3. People change, and the best predictor of their future performance is their recent behavior.
If you believe that Barack Obama at 20 or 22 was the same man he is today, then you should probably apply the same standard to Mitt Romney. This makes little sense to me, but then I haven't paid much attention to stories of Obama's misspent youth. What is relevant to me is his behavior today.
Interestingly, aside from his self-reporting shoving of a younger black girl at his school, no stories suggesting a propensity for bullying have emerged from Obama's youth. Yet during the 2008 Presidential race, the Obama campaign urged its supporters to gang up on (and shout down) an author they disagreed with.
Fast forward to the 2012 race where the pattern of intimidation - both direct and by proxy - continues:
Here's what happens when the president of the United States publicly targets a private citizen for the crime of supporting his opponent.
Frank VanderSloot is the CEO of Melaleuca Inc. The 63-year-old has run that wellness-products company for 26 years out of tiny Idaho Falls, Idaho. Last August, Mr. VanderSloot gave $1 million to Restore Our Future, the Super PAC that supports Mitt Romney.
Three weeks ago, an Obama campaign website, "Keeping GOP Honest," took the extraordinary step of publicly naming and assailing eight private citizens backing Mr. Romney. Titled "Behind the curtain: a brief history of Romney's donors," the post accused the eight of being "wealthy individuals with less-than-reputable records." Mr. VanderSloot was one of the eight, smeared particularly as being "litigious, combative and a bitter foe of the gay rights movement."
About a week after that post, a man named Michael Wolf contacted the Bonneville County Courthouse in Idaho Falls in search of court records regarding Mr. VanderSloot. Specifically, Mr. Wolf wanted all the documents dealing with Mr. VanderSloot's divorces, as well as a case involving a dispute with a former Melaleuca employee.
Mr. Wolf sent a fax to the clerk's office—which I have obtained—listing four cases he was after. He would later send a second fax, asking for three further court cases dealing with either Melaleuca or Mr. VanderSloot.
Empathy is much in the news these days. The question is, which is more relevant to this contest? Nearly 50 year old "revelations" that show a "disturbing" lack of empathy from a then-teenaged Mitt Romney?
Or a consistent pattern of thuggery and intimidation by a sitting President? Any bets on which stories will be hyped (and which ignored)? If bullying is bad, then it is bad regardless of who the aggressor is. And if empathy is important, then one might expect the media to discern a disturbing lack of empathy when a fully adult man uses his position (and the bully pulpit) to crowdsource his opposition research and gang up on private citizens who have done nothing wrong or illegal.
The President's contemporary acts of thuggery do not mean a story nearly a half century old should be ignored or suppressed. Two wrongs don't make a right. But the question I'm left with is, "What standard is being applied here?"
And to what end?
*malapropism fully intended
May 09, 2012
Obama Still Doesn't Get the Military He Commands
Jennifer Rubin notes an interesting double standard from both the Left and Right when it comes to criticizing the Commander in Chief:
It’s not an easy task for a presidential candidate to decide when and how to criticize the incumbent on national security matters. No candidate wants to cede ground to the president, especially one with as troubling a record as this one. But neither should a challenger be excessive in ripping the commander in chief or refuse to acknowledge success.
Now some just want the president’s rival to shut up. President Obama rapped critics of his Iran policy for purportedly engaging in “loose war talk.” Last week, to the shock of some foreign policy hawks, Bill Kristol harshly scolded Mitt Romney for criticizing Obama’s handling of the Chen Guangcheng situation, which Romney had done in terms similar to most every conservative foreign policy guru who has spoken or written on the issue. (Dan Senor, the most prominent foreign policy surrogate, was also dispatched to critique the president’s performance.) Interestingly, on Friday, Chen’s lawyer remarked on the efficacy of public criticism of the president, “I knew Obama would sooner or later have to say something. How was he going to fight a campaign and respond to attacks by Romney? By sitting in silence?”
So what is a candidate like Romney to do?
We know what Candidate "Do as I say, not as I did" behaved when he was in the same situation
It's hard to make sense of President Obama's super secret trip to Afghanistan today without looking back to the 2008 election when President Bush was trying to negotiate a similar agreement with the government of Iraq. Back then, Candidate Obama did everything within his power to undermine the Strategic Framework agreement - up to and including personally interfering with ongoing negotiations between the Bush administration and the Iraqis and then bragging about it...
We also know what President Obama did once elected: continue the very policies he once furiously denounced as morally bankrupt and shameful. It is nothing short of bizarre to see this President claiming credit for having doubled down on Bush-era policy decisions:
President Obama campaigned on a scorched earth critique of the foreign policy he inherited from President Bush. He promised to undo all of it. Some of those promises (withdrawing all combat troops from Iraq in 16 months) barely survived the first few days, while others (unconditional talks with Ahmadinejad or closing Gitmo) were only jettisoned after months of failed efforts. The correlation is almost perfect: the longer Obama hewed to his campaign critique, the less well it has gone in foreign-policy. And, by the way, the supposedly hyper-partisan Republican opposition actually has chalked up a record that compares very favorably with the recent past: where Obama has pursued a genuinely bipartisan policy, he has enjoyed strong bipartisan support.
But when it comes to this President and his performance as Commander in Chief, grading on a steep curve seems to be the new normal. In a stunning display of post hoc apologetics, David Ignatius inadvertently highlights Obama's incoherent and oddly passive performance as Commander in Chief:
President Obama finally seemed to reach his comfort level as commander in chief during his visit to Kabul yesterday — and it probably wasn’t a coincidence that he was signing an Obamesque document that at once mandates the withdrawal of most U.S. combat troops — and also allows the continued presence of a counterterrorism force to kill al-Qaeda terrorists.
This is the outcome that Obama probably wanted all along, which was favored back in 2009 by Vice President Biden and other political advisers. The president let himself be talked into a more ambitious counterinsurgency strategy, and a surge of 30,000 troops, but he never seemed happy with it. Indeed, he undercut the surge strategy from the outset by announcing that he would begin withdrawing the surge troops in July 2011 — practically inviting the Taliban to wait him out.
Obama has sometimes seemed a distant, passionless commander, much more comfortable making decisions in secret about covert action than in the flag-waving public role of leading the troops. But that didn’t seem true yesterday, especially during his unscripted, shirt-sleeve speech to troops at Bagram Air Base. He sounded like the military’s advocate and leader, looking fit and youthful as he strode striding the stage. Surely this comfort level was a reflection of the fact that he was outlining a strategy he finally believes in.
Here the Editorial Staff will pause to allow the assembled villainry to pick their jaws up off the floor. Let's walk through what Ignatius just told us:
1. Obama "allowed himself to be talked into" sending 30,000 young men and women into a battle he didn't believe in?
2. Having stepped up the war effort against his better judgment, our Commander in Chief proceeded to support the men and women he had sent into harm's way by "undercut[ting] the surge strategy from the outset"?
Stop and think about that one for just a moment. Think about the American lives - and American families - who paid the price for a change their leader didn't believe in:
Of course, David Ignatius isn't the only Obama admirer whose moral compass points in all directions at once. In an even more inexplicable column, another David (Maraniss, this time) proudly trumpets "Obama's Military Connection":
Obama is the first president to whom Vietnam is ancient history. He carries none of the psychological baggage of that war, for better or worse. Every young man in the baby-boom generation of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush had to deal with Vietnam somehow, but by the time Obama came of age, the war and the draft were over. His liberal mother felt at home in the peace movement, and he took many characteristics from her, but he also chafed at her idealistic naivete, which he viewed as a relic of the ’60s. From an early age he wanted to be harder and cooler than his mother, less Pollyannaish, more pragmatic. His use of the military option in his foreign policy reflects that dual sensibility. Clinton grew up wanting to be JFK, but Obama thinks more like him.
It was no accident that, during his surprise visit to Afghanistan a few days ago, the president referred to the military men and women there as the new “greatest generation,” skipping over Vietnam again. Obama feels more affinity toward his grandfather’s generation (Stan Dunham fought in Europe during World War II) than to his mother’s, or he at least finds it more culturally appealing. He is an avid viewer of the television show “Mad Men” and told me that some of the characters remind him of his grandparents, with whom he lived as a teenager.
The cultural geography of those formative years also shaped his perspective. Obama was in Honolulu then, surrounded by military installations. Hickam Air Force Base, Schofield Barracks, Fort Shafter, Pearl Harbor Naval Station and Hawaii Marine Corps Base were all part of his adolescent environment. He grew up comfortable with the military culture, not alienated from it. Some friends came from military families. One of his buddies dated an admiral’s daughter, and they would borrow the old man’s car to tool around the island.
"Some of his best friends were military". Now where have we heard that one before? During the Bush years, serving in the National Guard was viewed as insufficient experience for a Commander in Chief. Fast forward to 2012 and a man who may have known some military juniors in high school - who couldn't find the time to meet with his senior commander in Afghanistan - is being lauded for his deep understanding and comfort level with all things military. Of course to him, Vietnam is ancient history. Tens of thousands of Americans died there, but that need not be mentioned (much less remembered). Certainly not praised.
Back in 2009 when her husband was serving in Afghanistan, this Marine wife argued that Obama doesn't get the military he commands:
...where was our Commander in Chief when his top commander in Afghanistan was being viciously attacked? Did he step in and defend his subordinate for doing the job he was ordered to do? Of course he didn't. Harry Truman was obviously no community organizer: the brouhaha over McChrystal ensured that the buck wouldn't stop in the Oval Office this time. The McChrystal leak was followed by the revelation that our stalwart Commander in Chief had only met with his top commander in Afghanistan once. Stung by the implication that his "war of necessity" was very much on the back burner, Obama scrambled to find a mere 20 minutes to spare as he idled on a runway in northern Europe. He spent more time than that conducting a beer summit.
Now the Army's largest base has suffered a devastating attack by a deranged Islamist. And how does our Commander in Chief respond? He gives a "shout out" to Joe Medicine Crow, that noted Congressional Medal of Honor winner.
Tell me something: in a moment of national tragedy is it really too much to expect the President of the United States to forego the "shout outs"? Is it too much ask that he learn the difference between the Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Medal of Honor? What we require from our leaders at times like this is not much, really. No one expects them to actually care. What we want is precisely the kind of thing that comes so effortlessly to Barack Obama: honeyed words and a reassuring show of compassion from a man who thinks that quality is the most important attribute a Supreme Court judge can possess. A public acknowledgment that something grave has happened. But for some reason, asking the Commander in Chief of our armed forces to give even the appearance of empathy was a bridge too far.
We lost one of our own in the attack on Fort Hood: Lieutenant Colonel Juanita Warman. That connection can never be severed. The sense of loss can never be forgotten.
I wish I were convinced that our Commander in Chief - or even pundits like David Ignatius - understood one tenth of the pride military families feel in our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. How can anyone praise the "Commander in Chief" for sending 30,000 of America's finest to war for a cause he not only doesn't support but actively tries to sabotage?
Easy. They are, after all, expendable to him (if not to us). They should not be.
May 03, 2012
"*I* Would Never Do That..."
'I am saddened that Vietnam has yet again been inserted into the campaign.'
We realize that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but couldn't Teh One have found fresher material?
Speaking in Iowa in 2006, Sen. Barack Obama said, “I’ve had enough of using terrorism as a wedge issue in our politics.” He said the war on terrorism "isn't supposed to crop up between September and November of even-numbered years."
But as president, Obama and his reelection campaign have consistently raised the issue -- repeatedly referring to a 2007 comment by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to suggest that Romney would not have ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden as Obama did one year ago.
Such preening always seems so shameless and self serving... until suddenly, it becomes downright useful.
May 01, 2012
Bin Laden Success Yet Another Thing Obama Inherited from Bush
...according to the former chief of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center:
With some trying to turn bin Laden’s death into a campaign talking point for Obama’s reelection, it is useful to remember that the trail to bin Laden started in a CIA black site — all of which Obama ordered closed, forever, on the second full day of his administration — and stemmed from information obtained from hardened terrorists who agreed to tell us some (but not all) of what they knew after undergoing harsh but legal interrogation methods. Obama banned those methods on Jan. 22, 2009.
This past weekend, Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin attacked statements made in May 2011 by me, former CIA director Michael Hayden and former attorney general Michael Mukasey regarding what led to bin Laden’s death. They misunderstood and mischaracterized our positions.
No single tactic, technique or approach led to the successful operation against bin Laden. But those who suggest it was all a result of a fresh approach taken after Jan. 20, 2009, are mistaken.
Betsy Newmark contrasts Obama's stunning lack of modesty with the behavior of his predecessors:
The man from whom President Obama has sought incessantly to distance himself, George W. Bush, also had occasion during his presidency to announce to the nation a triumph of intelligence: the capture of Saddam Hussein. He called that success "a tribute to our men and women now serving in Iraq." He attributed it to "the superb work of intelligence analysts who found the dictator's footprints in a vast country. The operation was carried out with skill and precision by a brave fighting force. Our servicemen and women and our coalition allies have faced many dangers. . . . Their work continues, and so do the risks."
He did mention himself at the end: "Today, on behalf of the nation, I thank the members of our Armed Forces and I congratulate them."
While the orders for the raid on bin Laden's compound included an escape clause that put the responsibility on Admiral McRaven for the "operational decision making and control" and the presentation of the "risk profile" given to the President, contrast that with Eisenhower's behavior on the eve of ordering the D-Day landings.Dwight Eisenhower is famous for having penned a statement to be issued in anticipation of the failure of the Normandy invasion that reads in relevant part: "My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame attaches to the attempt it is mine alone."
A week later, when the success of the invasion was apparent, Eisenhower saluted the Allied Expeditionary Forces: "One week ago this morning there was established through your coordinated efforts our first foothold in northwestern Europe. High as was my preinvasion confidence in your courage, skill and effectiveness . . . your accomplishments . . . have exceeded my brightest hopes.
Eisenhower did mention himself at the end: "I truly congratulate you upon a brilliantly successful beginning. . . . Liberty loving people everywhere would today like to join me in saying to you, 'I am proud of you.'"
Obama's spiked football comment is just the latest in a series of verbal misdirections ("Let me be clear", "This is not about...", "X is my top priority") in which he loudly claims to be doing one thing while doing the exact opposite.
Pay no attention to the man spiking the football.
April 27, 2012
Drop And Give Him Twenty
No, the Blog Princess is not dead. Just buried in fundraising emails from the Obama campaign. In my Inbox this afternoon, a heartfelt plea from FLOTUS:
We're up against a critical fundraising deadline this coming Monday, and we need your help.
We know you're working hard for this campaign, but we also want you to have some fun -- and that's where George Clooney comes in.
If you chip in between now and Monday, you'll be automatically entered for the chance to join Barack at George Clooney's house on May 10th.
Don't miss out -- make a donation of $3 or whatever you can:
Thanks, and good luck,
How many "critical fundraising deadlines" does this make, now? It's getting to where we're terrified to ignore our email, lest we miss yet another CRITICAL FUNDRAISING DEADLINE !!11!
In the WSJ, Peggy Noonan notes what she calls "a growing air of incompetence" at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:
There is a growing air of incompetence around Mr. Obama's White House. It was seen again this week in Supreme Court arguments over the administration's challenge to Arizona's attempted crackdown on illegal immigration. As Greg Stohr of Bloomberg News wrote, the court seemed to be disagreeing with the administration's understanding of federal power: "Solicitor General Donald Verrilli . . . met resistance across ideological lines. . . . Even Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court's only Hispanic and an Obama appointee, told Verrilli his argument is 'not selling very well.' " This follows last month's embarrassing showing over the constitutionality of parts of ObamaCare.
All of this looks so bush league, so scattered. Add it to the General Services Administration, to Solyndra, to the other scandals, and you get a growing sense that no one's in charge, that the administration is paying attention to politics but not day-to-day governance. The two most public cabinet members are Eric Holder at Justice and Janet Napolitano at Homeland Security. He is overseeing the administration's Supreme Court cases. She is in charge of being unmoved by the daily stories of Transportation Security Administration incompetence and even cruelty at our airports. Those incidents and stories continue, but if you go to the Homeland Security website, there is no mention of them. It's as if they don't even exist.
It's not that they don't exist. It's just that, when weighed against the critically important business of fundraising, actually doing the job America hired him to do isn't terribly important to this president:
President Barack Obama's reelection campaign is sitting on a major cash-on-hand advantage over his likely opponent, Mitt Romney. The president raised $35 million in the month of March alone, while spending $15.6 million during that same time period.
If only he ran the federal government like he runs his campaign. When it comes to raising money, the Obama machine is anything but incompetent:
The rate of donations to expenditures left the president's team with $104,096,193.91 cash on hand -- a huge total, especially when compared to the Romney campaign's $10.1 million.
In addition to the money raised by the Obama campaign, the Democratic National Committee raised $18 million during the month of March (giving the allied forces a combined total of $53 million).
Imagine what would happen if these people spent as much time and energy actually trying to fix the problems we're facing as they do blowing off female reporters, taking lavish, taxpayer-funded
boondoggles vacations during The Worst Inherited-from-Bush Depression Evah, and launching heavy-handed, thuggish attacks on anyone who fails to show sufficient Socialistic ardor
Try this thought experiment: You decide to donate money to Mitt Romney. You want change in the Oval Office, so you engage in your democratic right to send a check.
Several days later, President Barack Obama, the most powerful man on the planet, singles you out by name. His campaign brands you a Romney donor, shames you for "betting against America," and accuses you of having a "less-than-reputable" record. The message from the man who controls the Justice Department (which can indict you), the SEC (which can fine you), and the IRS (which can audit you), is clear: You made a mistake donating that money.
Are you worried?
Richard Nixon's "enemies list" appalled the country for the simple reason that presidents hold a unique trust. Unlike senators or congressmen, presidents alone represent all Americans. Their powers—to jail, to fine, to bankrupt—are also so vast as to require restraint. Any president who targets a private citizen for his politics is de facto engaged in government intimidation and threats. This is why presidents since Nixon have carefully avoided the practice.
Save Mr. Obama, who acknowledges no rules. This past week, one of his campaign websites posted an item entitled "Behind the curtain: A brief history of Romney's donors." In the post, the Obama campaign named and shamed eight private citizens who had donated to his opponent. Describing the givers as all having "less-than-reputable records," the post went on to make the extraordinary accusations that "quite a few" have also been "on the wrong side of the law" and profiting at "the expense of so many Americans."
Better hurry up and send in that $3 donation. We wouldn't want anything... unpleasant to happen to you.
April 16, 2012
It's amazing what one man can do when he's properly motivated:
The president's reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee took in a combined $53 million in March through their various fundraising accounts, the Obama camp announced in a video Monday.
... The top line number is up from $45 million in February and $29.1 million in January, the trend line is moving in a direction that Democrats can like.
...In March 2008, the Obama campaign -- operating without DNC help -- raised $42.8 million.
Imagine what he could do if he seriously tried to pass a budget or deal with the deficit!