September 10, 2014
The Fan Saga Continues....
Sorry for going AWOL last week. The Blog Princess is in St. Louis for another week and is still having laptop issues involving a recalcitrant cooling fan. So blogging is going to be light until next week.
Whilst we are playing with our granddaughter's adorable toes, this excellent column by Michael Barone is worth a read:
America’s two great political parties are constantly transforming themselves, sometimes in small increments, sometimes in sudden lurches.
...But when the other party has held the White House for an extended period, the transformation process can be stormy and chaotic. Which is a pretty apt description of the Republican Party over the past few years. Its two living ex-presidents, the George Bushes, withdrew from active politics immediately after leaving the White House, and its two most recent nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney, say they are not running for president again, although they do weigh in on issues. There is no obvious heir apparent and there are many politicians who may seek the 2016 presidential nomination. More than usual, the opposition party is up for grabs.
As the cartoon images of elephant and donkey suggest, our two parties are different kinds of animals. Republicans have generally been more cohesive, with a core made up of politicians and voters who see themselves, and are seen by others, as typical Americans — white Northern Protestants in the 19th century, married white Christians today. But those groups, by themselves, have never been a majority of the nation. The Democratic Party has been made up of disparate groups of people regarded, by themselves and others, as outsiders in some way — Southern whites and Catholic immigrants in the 19th century, blacks and gentry liberals today. Our electoral system motivates both to amass coalitions larger than 50 percent of voters. Democrats tend to do so by adding additional disparate groups. Republicans tend to do so by coming up with appeals that unite their base and erode Democrats’ support from others.
In the past 100 years there has been a certain rhythm, a familiar though not inevitable pattern, in coalition construction and deconstruction. A party’s nominee for president is elected. In his first years he advances a legislative agenda that all members of his party and, usually, some in the opposition party support. He is re-elected or, as in 1924 and 1964, the vice president who succeeds him is elected by a substantial margin. In the last century, the only years when previously elected presidents were defeated after one term were 1932, 1980 and 1992. Then, in the president’s second term, events turn sour, legislative initiatives are defeated, the opposition party coalesces and the president’s party splinters. Among members of his party, gratitude for past achievements dims, and frustration grows over roads not taken and goals not achieved. Disillusion accelerates as fears grow that the opposite party’s nominee will win the next election. The party in power splinters and either erupts openly or seethes silently with discontent. The party out of power grapples first with the task of selecting a new nominee and, perhaps more importantly, of settling on policy initiatives and priorities.
Back in 2009, we made some very similar observations:
Another meme popular among frustrated conservatives is that Bush is responsible for our defeat in 2008 and the resulting disarray of the Rethuglican party. Not to put too fine a point on it, but an objective examination of the historical record provides no evidence to support the notion that a third term of Republican leadership in the Oval Office was George Bush's to lose...
... (pre- and post-1950) any uninterrupted stretch where one party occupied the Oval Office for MORE than two terms is noted.
The salient observation? Prior to 1950, extended one-party rule was more the norm than the exception.
Since 1950, extended one-party rule has been the exception rather than the norm. In fact, it has happened only once.
But by all means, let us blame Bush for our defeat in 2008. It is always so much easier than looking at facts that inconveniently undermine what we'd like to believe, especially when this involves that rather startling notion that we live under a two party system in which - oddly enough - the party not in power tends to feel bitter, cheated, aggrieved, disaffected and angry.
...and the party in power tends to wear out its welcome if it's "lucky" enough to stay in the White House for two terms.
August 22, 2014
[YAWN]: Another Day, Another Law Ignored by The White House
Most grist for the Editorial Staff's oft-repeated observation that everyday occurrences don't make the news:
After Thursday's network evening newscasts ignored a report from the Government Accountability Office that the exchange of five terrorists from Guantanamo Bay for Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was illegal, NBC's Today and ABC's Good Morning America remained silent on the Obama administration scandal on Friday. Only CBS This Morning made any mention of the violation of federal law, providing a mere 24-second news brief on the topic.
Meanwhile, both Today and GMA did find time to produce full reports on a contestant on VH1's Dating Naked reality show suing the cable network for showing her naked on the program.
...While CBS at least noted the GAO finding, the morning show provided more time – 40 seconds – to showing a time lapse video of President Obama aging while in office.
One can only imagine the kerfuffle, had Bush done something like this.
May 20, 2014
Important Shared Sacrifice Alert
Furloughed federal workers of America: did the President really share your Sequester Sacrifice? The Most Transparent Administration Evah won't/can't say:
Obama promised last April to take a 5 percent pay cut in “solidarity” with federal employees who were furloughed as a result of the automatic budget cuts, known as the sequester. The cut was meant to equate to the level of spending cuts imposed on nondefense federal agencies.
“The president has decided that to share in the sacrifice being made by public servants across the federal government that are affected by the sequester, he will contribute a portion of his salary back to the Treasury,” a White House official said at the time.
According to his tax returns, Obama is still receiving the presidential salary of $400,000 per year. Last year, he earned $394,796 in wages from the Defense Financing and Accounting Service (DFAS-CIVPAY), which handles the salaries for civilian members of the Defense Department.
Obama’s income was commensurate to his salaries in recent years. He took in $395,188 in 2010, $394,821 in 2011, and $394,840 in 2012. The salary is also comparable to what former President George W. Bush received in 2007, when he earned $397,839.
The president’s salary is set by the U.S. code, and cannot be legally changed in the middle of a presidential term. However, at the time of Obama’s promise, the White House official said Obama would “write a check to the government” each month, according to the New York Times, beginning last April.
The official also promised that the president would take the cut for the entire year, amounting to roughly $20,000.
The White House would not respond to numerous requests submitted by the Washington Free Beacon to the White House press office to confirm that Obama did, in fact, write checks to the Treasury.
Silly journalists. Obama has no idea what's going on in his own administration. He finds these things out the way the rest of America does.
By watching cable news.
September 13, 2013
The First Rule of 9/11 Memorials...
...at least to hear Dana Milbanks tell it, is: "Do not talk about what happened on 9/11".
On the other side of the Capitol, conservative leaders joined the eccentric Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) at what was supposed to be a “memorial service for the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 and 2012.” But the 3,000 who perished in 2001 got just a few passing references at the 35-minute event.
The “primary purpose” of the gathering, in the words of organizer Jerry Boykin, a retired Army general, was to remember the four men who were killed in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, in an attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost there. More to the point, the conservatives had assembled to blame the Obama administration for the deaths and to demand further investigation of the resulting “scandal.”
Or maybe it's more like, "Talk all you like, so long as you stick to the pre-approved script."
Who gets to set the rules for what's permissible during a 9/11 memorial? Is discouraging dissent and free speech some heretofore unknown function of our much vaunted free press? Oddly, I don't recall criticism of the President being off limits during the Bush years, even on the anniversary of 9/11.
Especially on the anniversary of 9/11. During the Bush years, publicly thumping the President bid fair to replace baseball as the national pastime and the press not only refrained from noting the distastefulness of it all but jumped on the bandwagon with wild abandon.
Are those horrid Republicans poaching the king's deer again?
Perhaps Herr Milbanks is suggesting there's no connection between the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001 and the terrorist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi on 9/11/2012. How impudent - downright rude, really- of them to point out that America responded to the 2001 attack, but has so far done nothing about the 2012 attack. Or maybe he's concerned that there were too few ceremonies commemorating 9/11 this year - that there was too little media reflection and commentary? That unsanctioned remembrances would prove to be a distraction from the main event?
Or perhaps it's just unseemly for a free people to demand accountability from their leaders on the first anniversary of an attack that killed 4 Americans and injured many more.
Incroyable! The peasantry have grown far too uppity, wethinks. Someone in authority should tell us to pipe down.
May 17, 2013
Who Could Have Predicted This?
Was the White House involved in the IRS's targeting of conservatives? No investigation needed to answer that one. Of course it was.
President Obama and Co. are in full deniability mode, noting that the IRS is an "independent" agency and that they knew nothing about its abuse. The media and Congress are sleuthing for some hint that Mr. Obama picked up the phone and sicced the tax dogs on his enemies.
But that's not how things work in post-Watergate Washington. Mr. Obama didn't need to pick up the phone. All he needed to do was exactly what he did do, in full view, for three years: Publicly suggest that conservative political groups were engaged in nefarious deeds; publicly call out by name political opponents whom he'd like to see harassed; and publicly have his party pressure the IRS to take action.
Mr. Obama now professes shock and outrage that bureaucrats at the IRS did exactly what the president of the United States said was the right and honorable thing to do. "He put a target on our backs, and he's now going to blame the people who are shooting at us?" asks Idaho businessman and longtime Republican donor Frank VanderSloot.
At the White House, President Obama addresses the IRS scandal, May 15.
Mr. VanderSloot is the Obama target who in 2011 made a sizable donation to a group supporting Mitt Romney. In April 2012, an Obama campaign website named and slurred eight Romney donors. It tarred Mr. VanderSloot as a "wealthy individual" with a "less-than-reputable record." Other donors were described as having been "on the wrong side of the law."
This was the Obama version of the phone call—put out to every government investigator (and liberal activist) in the land.
Twelve days later, a man working for a political opposition-research firm called an Idaho courthouse for Mr. VanderSloot's divorce records. In June, the IRS informed Mr. VanderSloot and his wife of an audit of two years of their taxes. In July, the Department of Labor informed him of an audit of the guest workers on his Idaho cattle ranch. In September, the IRS informed him of a second audit, of one of his businesses. Mr. VanderSloot, who had never been audited before, was subject to three in the four months after Mr. Obama teed him up for such scrutiny.
The last of these audits was only concluded in recent weeks. Not one resulted in a fine or penalty. But Mr. VanderSloot has been waiting more than 20 months for a sizable refund and estimates his legal bills are $80,000. That figure doesn't account for what the president's vilification has done to his business and reputation.
Meanwhile the 501(c)4 application of Organizing for Action, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Barack Obama Perpetual Campaign, seems to have escaped the white-hot scrutiny of the IRS:
President Obama’s successful campaign apparatus is converting—for a second time—to an ongoing advocacy organization. After the 2008 campaign, the well-oiled Obama machine reformed as Organizing for America, a component of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The first OFA became a tool for organizing support for President Obama’s major first term agenda initiatives. In the aftermath of the even more successful reelection campaign, there will be a new OFA—a 501(c)(4) called Organizing for Action.
... OFA’s initial slate of board members is straight out of the Obama reelection campaign, including Jim Messina, Stephanie Cutter, Robert Gibbs, Julianna Smoot, and soon, David Plouffe. It is very separate from the leadership of the Democratic Party. It could be that OFA represents the Obama team’s limited faith in the Democratic Party or perhaps an analysis that something is needed to pressure Democrats to stay in line behind the president’s second term agenda.
The Obama campaign reportedly has an e-mail list of between 12 million and 13 million names, the basis of a remarkably powerful independent organization. The collection of Obama campaign loyalists in OFA suggests the creation of a group that, whatever its commitment to a political agenda, may be as responsive to Obama as it is to progressive politics.
The new OFA leadership pledges that the organization will not accept donations from lobbyists, but who needs lobbyists to front for corporate special interests when corporations can make unlimited donations on their own? As a 501(c)(4), even if the leadership makes commitments to disclosure, OFA can still be a politically allied social welfare organization camouflaging the unlimited corporate donations unleashed by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Given OFA’s leadership by former Obama campaign staffers, how likely is it that OFA will be able to take the organization through small “d” democratic governance processes in any direction other than one supported by Messina, Plouffe, and other campaign operatives promoting the president’s agenda?
March 06, 2013
Apparently, The Post Does Not Actually Regret the Error
Without informing readers in the story or elsewhere, on Monday night The Washington Post deleted its explicit claim that the Dominican prostitute who recanted her allegation against Sen. Robert Menendez had appeared in a video posted to The Daily Caller.
...Readers were not notified of the update anywhere on the article page of Leonnig’s story, and the time stamp was removed to make it impossible to know when the edits went into effect.
The Post published another story at noon on Monday by Leonnig covering TheDC’s refutation of her original piece. In it, Leonnig does not explicitly state her investigation covered the same women interviewed by TheDC.
We're beginning to understand the value of the professional media's rigorous layers of editorial fact checking and control. The use of anonymous sources whose motivation can't be questioned can be quite helpful here, along with the use of subtle hints about connections that don't actually exist. All this indirection is so much harder to fact check:
A Dominican politician related to a top political donor to Sen. Bob Menendez was the driving force promoting new claims from a woman who now says she concocted an allegation that the senator paid her for sex in 2012.
The Miami Herald reported Tuesday that Vinicio Castillo Semán, the cousin of Dr. Salomon Melgen, first released an affidavit Monday from a Dominican escort named Nexis de los Santos Santana, who recanted what she said were accusations she made in a media report.
The Washington Post quickly connected that affidavit to The Daily Caller’s Nov. 1, 2012 report, in which two women said on videotape that they were paid to provide sexual favors to Menendez. But de los Santos’ statement Monday appears to describe a different interview that was never published.
Isn't this the kind of thing that normally shows up in the corrections section of a major newspaper? Oh well, at least the media can comfort themselves that they're far more professional than the blog rabble.
Sheesh. This is twice in the space of a week Monsieur O'Spades has done something that makes us feel positively tingly. If he keeps this up, we'll have to create a new category just for him.
Full marks. CWCID: Patterico.
January 15, 2013
Obama: "In 2006, I Was An Absurd, Irresponsible Partisan Hack"
"…we’re going to have to make sure that people are looking at this in a responsible way, rather than just through the lens of politics."
- President Barack Obama, imploring Congressional Republicans to rise above the kind of petty, partisan grandstanding that characterized his own 2006 vote on the debt ceiling.
The date was March 16th, 2006. The young Senator, still wet behind the ears after only 14 months on Capitol Hill, rose to lecture his more experienced colleagues about the need for fiscal responsibility:
Mr. President, I rise today to talk about America’s debt problem.
The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies.
Flash forward to 2012. With Democrats firmly in control of both the White House and Senate it would be absurd - irresponsible, in fact - to blame the fact that we are once again discussing the debt limit to leadership failure. The appalling vacuum that forced a young Senator to explain the duties of the Chief Executive to a President who had held that office three times longer than Obama had been a Senator is mercifully gone, but eternal truths remain, well... eternal:
Leadership means that ‘‘the buck stops here.’’
So deep is the President's belief in this noble sentiment that he used it again during the 2012 campaign to admonish Mitt Romney for failing to live up to this administrations's lofty standards:
... as President of the United States, one of the things I’ve learned, and we just talked about was anything that happens on my watch is my responsibility. That’s what people expect. Harry Truman said the buck stops with me...”
A mere half year later, though, Obama's elusive buck seems to stop everywhere but at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. America is having this debate, not because we've had it every year for the last few decades, but because
terrorists violent extremists in the House of Representatives have taken the nation hostage.
Calling the opposition’s stance “absurd,” Obama advised Republicans that they “have two choices here: They can act responsibly and pay America’s bills, or they can act irresponsibly and put America through another economic crisis. But they will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy. . . . And they better choose quickly, because time is running short.”
And that was just the opening statement. The hectoring continued through the Q&A. Exactly one month after the massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., Obama said of debt-reduction talks: “What I will not do is to have that negotiation with a gun at the head of the American people.”
Why can't we all just get along? Fortunately, we now have a president who understands us and feels our pain. A less sensitive leader might be tempted to trivialize a tragedy that is still all too fresh in our minds, but real leaders rise above such pettiness.
Back when the national debt was only half of today's staggering figure of 16.4 trillion (That's trillion with a "T", he reminded his fellow Senators), the young Senator Obama pleaded passionately for Congress to come its senses:
Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally...Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.
I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit
Today, he dismisses his former vote as a "political vote" by an inexperienced public servant. This does not explain why every single Democratic Senator voted against raising the debt limit in 2006.
But no matter. What's important here is that our elected representatives work with a Democratic president who has announced in advance that he refuses to negotiate towards a "balanced solution". And nothing makes political adversaries feel warmer and fuzzier than a few terrorist analogies and a whole lot of name calling.
That's leadership we can all believe in.