Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Health Care, Law, Media Bias, Progressivism, Statism | Tags: The Chicago Daley Machine, The Chicago Way, The Obama Administration
Even those of us who have never been to Chicago or the state of Illinois are somewhat aware of the reputation of the Chicago Daley machine. My next-door neighbors came from Illinois, and they had tales about corruption that goes way back. Governments aren’t perfect and politics attracts people whose first and most important interest is in getting elected and reelected. The current recession and slow recovery have exposed the seamy side of corrupt governments as never before. You can ignore a little special dealing and corruption if it results in strong economic growth and low unemployment.
The Wall Street Journal named Chicago as the fifth most heavily taxed city in the country. Its sales tax of 9.75 percent is especially onerous for low-income families. Richard M. Daley took office in 1991, and turned the reins over to Rahm Emanuel in 2011. In that time the average debt for a citizen of Chicago grew from $600 to $2,600, an increase of 433 percent. Since 2007, the Chicago region has lost more jobs than Detroit has, and twice as many as New York. The teacher’s union sneered at Rahm Emanuel’s attempt to curb their power and went on strike anyway. The murder rate in Chicago makes headlines almost every day.
Barack Obama was cool, and Journalists caught by his charm, assumed that he had “somehow passed through Chicago politics without ever developing any real connection to it.” John Fund summed up the situation:
The Daley machine, which evolved over 60 years from a patronage-rich army of worker bees into a corporate state in which political pull and public-employee unions dominate, has left its imprint on Obama. The machine’s core principle, laid out in an illuminating Chicago Independent Examiner primer on “the Chicago Way,” is that at all times elections are too important to be left to chance.
Obama came to Washington with guides David Axelrod who was the chief consultant to Richard M. Daley, and Valerie Jarrett, the mayor’s former deputy chief of staff. More from John: Fund
Conservatives in Chicago, an embattled breed, say the Obama scandals now coming to light — the IRS, the intimidation of journalists, the green-energy boondoggles such as Solyndra — could have been anticipated. “The 2008 Obama campaign perpetrated a fraud that he was a reformer,” says Chris Robling, a former journalist who has served as a Republican election commissioner. “All of the complaints — from the lack of transparency to HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s shaking down corporations to promote Obamacare — stem from the culture of the Daley Machine.” For decades, Robling says, Mayor Daley “encouraged” contributions to his favorite charities, with the implicit understanding that the “encourager” controlled the city’s inspectors and regulators. “That sounds an awful lot like what Sebelius was doing to prop up Obamacare,” Robling notes. “Obama’s ideology may come from Saul Alinsky’s acolytes, but his political tactics come straight from the Daley playbook.” Indeed, friends of Bill Daley, Mayor Daley’s brother, say that one reason Bill left his post as Obama’s White House chief of staff after only one year was that even he thought Team Obama was too much “all politics, all of the time” and not enough about governance.
The Windy City and its notorious political history are once again in the national spotlight. It’s not a pretty picture, but its characteristics are laid out in a devastating list by the Chicago Examiner. A key to current events and what to expect.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Immigration, Law, National Security, Taxes | Tags: A Common Thread, Not Trustworthy, The Obama Administration
Professor John Yoo has identified the common thread in the major Obama administration scandals:
Add up all the recent scandals and the message is clear: the Obama administration is showing that it cannot be trusted with the basic functions of government: law enforcement (surveillance of reporters), taxation (IRS scandals), and national security (Benghazi).
The next problem to demand attention is the Immigration system, which is clearly broken. We have no control of our borders. We have an estimated eleven million illegal aliens in the country. Our traditional ways of assimilating new immigrants is broken. They are not assimilating.
The Obama administration cannot be trusted with overseeing that function. The president has decided by executive order that he will not seek the deportation of young illegal immigrants. Actually it’s worse than that. He has ordered ICE and the border patrol to release any new illegals crossing the border, under the age of 31. ICE agents are suing Homeland Security, Secretary Napolitano and the President because they are ordered not to do what the law requires them to do.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Election 2012, Foreign Policy, Military, National Security, The United States | Tags: Afghanistan, Insider Afghan Attacks, The Obama Administration
U.S. and NATO troops have fallen to attacks by Afghan insiders— trainees or Afghan police — in increasing numbers. The troop deaths from so-called green-on-blue attacks have climbed past 100, and it is only now becoming clear why it is happening. There has been a standing order from military brass requiring troops to remove the magazines from their weapons while quartered inside their bases with their “trusted Afghan partners.”
Jihadist Afghan soldiers or police have easily gotten the jump on their trainers, shooting them in cold blood with the rifles and ammunition issued by the United States. Ten of our troops have died in just this way in the past two weeks. Since the beginning of 2012, there have been 32 attacks that have resulted in 40 deaths. Last year there were 21 insider attacks.
Earlier this month, an Afghan security commander ambushed U.S. troops. The officer, who was helping U.S. special forces train the local police force, lured elite U.S. soldiers to a Ramadan meal at his outpost to talk security. He then opened fire on them at close range, killing three and wounding one.
The Taliban took credit for the attack. The terror group released a video indicating it has heavily infiltrated the Afghan national army and police force.
“I opened fire on three Americans who were sitting together,” a rogue Afghan soldier, identified as Ghazi Mahmood, says while smiling for the camera. “The reason I killed them is because they have occupied our country. They are enemies of our religion.” He said that there are many other uniformed Afghans “looking for the opportunity to kill infidels.”
This was conceived as a “gesture of trust” toward Muslim partners. Commanders ordered U.S. soldiers to remover their magazines from their weapons while training and working alongside them. The Afghans were allowed to remain armed. Most troops generally removed their heavy Kevlar body armor once they got inside the base, making them even more vulnerable to “friendly fire.”
Disarming the Afghans would have been the obvious solution. But of course that would expose this whole “training partnership” as the farce it really is. Training and standing up a national security force in Afghanistan is the linchpin of President Obama’s withdrawal strategy. He has set a 2014 deadline for troop pullout.
But the Pentagon is already reducing troop presence by 30,000 by the end of the summer. Many of the remaining soldiers will switch from fighting to training and advising Afghan forces. This means even more of them will be exposed to insider attacks.
But we’re not just training Afghans to replace soldiers. We’re hiring them to protect our soldiers right now, and many of them have also turned on our soldiers. Obama has insisted on using Afghan security guards for base security as a way to limit the size of the U.S. military footprint in Afghanistan. Hiring local Afghans to protect troops obviates the need to deploy some 20,000 additional troops as MPs, or to move existing troops out of combat roles.
Obama’s rush to withdraw has needlessly cost at least 100 soldiers’ lives and wounded countless others.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Freedom, History, Israel | Tags: Mitt Romney, The Obama Administration, The State of Israel
Mitt Romney was just in Israel, and in a speech said he was happy to be in the capital city of Israel, Jerusalem. This is notable because Jay Carney, hapless press secretary, twisted himself into knots recently to avoid admitting that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel. A witless representative of the State Department actually said that it was to be determined by negotiation. Just stop it. You are embarrassing us.
Israel is a sovereign state. Jerusalem is not only its historic capital, Israel says that Jerusalem is its capital. They are the only ones who get to decide. It’s their country.
The United States does not get to decide what is the capital of Israel. Jay Carney does not get to decide. President Barack Obama does not get to decide. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton does not get to decide, and the witless State Department woman does not get to decide. And stateless Palestinians don’t get to decide. If they can stop shooting rockets and trying to kill people, they might someday get their own state.
Washington DC is the capital of the United States. If the Congress of the United States should decide, with the approval of the people, that we should move the capital to Plato, Missouri (which is the population center of the country) — then that would be the capital — but for the present, it remains in Washington DC, where Congress decided to put it, back in July, 1790.
It’s all really very simple. Can we stop being stupid.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Foreign Policy, Intelligence, National Security, Terrorism | Tags: SecurityGate, The Obama Administration, The White House
Security leaks and the moles who made them, burrowed deep in our most secret departments, are the stuff of thrillers. How to discover the mole and prove his responsibility and to whom he gave our secrets —more than one novel has been based on just such a plot.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seeking asylum in Ecuador trying to avoid trial and prison. He thought that publishing government secrets would — what? Make him rich? Reform Governments? Some think that governments should not have secrets, that public exposure would make governments more honest.
This is nonsense. The world is a dangerous place and governments are charged with protecting their people. The imperfections and failings of the human race are readily found in the daily news. Of course governments must have secrets. and those who reveal secrets face harsh punishment.
Imagine an organization that has serially leaked the nation’s most carefully protected secrets — exposing intelligence sources, methods, and sharing classified information with the press that puts real lives at risk. Victor Davis Hanson details the scandal:
What I call “Securitygate” — the release of the most intricate details about the cyber war against Iran, the revelations about a Yemeni double-agent, disclosures about covert operations in and against Pakistan, intimate details about the Osama bin Laden raid and the trove of information taken from his compound, and the Predator drone assassination list and the president’s methodology in selecting targets — is far more serious than either prior scandal. David Sanger and others claim that all this was sort of in the public domain anyway; well, “sort of” covers a lot of ground. We sort of knew about the cyber war against Iran, but not to the detail that Sanger provides and not through the direct agency of the Obama administration itself.
Here is the crux of the scandal: Obama is formulating a new policy of avoiding overt unpopular engagements, while waging an unprecedented covert war across the world. He’s afraid that the American people do not fully appreciate these once-secret efforts and might in 2012 look only at his mishaps in Afghanistan or his public confusion over Islamic terror. Ergo, feed information to a Sanger or Ignatius so that they can skillfully inform us, albeit with a bit of dramatic “shock” and “surprise,” just how tough, brutal, and deadly Barack Obama really is.
Yet these disclosures will endanger our national security, especially in the case of a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran. They will probably get people killed or tortured, and they will weaken America’s ability for years to work covertly with allies. Our state-to-state relations will be altered, and perhaps even the techniques and technology of our cyber and special operations wars dispersed into the wrong hands.
The whole world now knows about U.S. covert actions against Iran’s nuclear facilities. The cyber-attacks could be called an act of war. The revelations about the nature of the cyber-attack on Iran was so detailed and technique so explicit that Iran will know better how to defend itself, and how to use the information to encourage more terror against the United States. The doctor who helped to locate bin Laden has been sentenced to 33 years in Pakistani prison. A Saudi double agent who helped us in Yemen has been outed. Why would our allies trust us with any information? Why would small nations dare to help us if we cannot keep secrets?
These weren’t quite “leaks,” but rather information freely given to the press to make Obama look stronger and more decisive in his foreign policy. It is completely clear that these “leaks” originated in the White House. The story in the New York Times cites members of the national security team who were in the Situation Room and quote the president. The White House is accused of leaking classified information to make the president look good in an election year.
Eric Holder, Attorney General has appointed a U.S attorney, Ronald Machen, who gave thousands of dollars to Obama’s first senate race and his presidential campaign, helped vet candidates for the vice presidential nomination and in a profile in the Washington Post, called Obama a “legend.”
Not the way to inspire confidence in an investigation.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Education, Environment, Junk Science, Politics | Tags: Green Ribbon Schools, Student Indoctrination, The Obama Administration
There is much conversation on the web about the “Education Bubble.” Even as President Obama expresses his aim of wanting every American kid to go to college, others want to get the federal government out of the education business. Democrats, as usual, think that all those bright people in Washington D.C. know way more about how to educate your children than you do.
Whenever there is an international comparison of education and kids abilities at math and science in particular, there are cries to reform education. Our kids do not measure up well in math and science. They don’t measure up well in history, geography, economics or writing ability either. That information does not come from international tests, but from complaints about college freshmen by professors. Colleges and universities have to do a lot of remedial education to bring entering students up to college level.
Homeschooling is increasing every year. Estimates of how many homeschooled students there are give a high of 1,739,000 and an average of 1.508,000. Studies show that home schooled students do better on standardized tests, better in college, and post-college they are more involved with their community and generally happier.
It is not surprising that most of the animus towards homeschooling comes from the teachers’ unions. Much of the animus toward public schools concerns the quality of the academic environment. The Left has long regarded children as blank slates who must be trained to be good members of society. The Right is inclined to oppose indoctrination.
Which brings me to today’s headline: “Obama Administration to Honor “Green” Schools That Teach “Environmental Literacy.” If schools were doing a decent job of teaching basic science, there would be no need for “environmental literacy.”
Next year, on Earth Day, the Obama administration will announce which schools have been selected as “Green Ribbon Schools.” Details of this indoctrination have not yet been worked out, but it will recognize schools for “engaging students on environmental issues and producing environmentally literate students, increasing energy efficiency and using renewable energy technologies,” as well as “creating healthy learning environments by addressing environmental issues in the schools.”
Time to homeschool, people.
Despite having authored two autobiographies, Barack Obama has never written about his most important executive experience. From 1995 to 1999, he led an education foundation called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), and remained on the board until 2001. The group poured more than $100 million into the hands of community organizers and radical education activists.The Chicago Annenberg Challenge was created ostensibly to improve Chicago’s public schools. The funding came from a national education initiative by Ambassador Walter Annenberg. In early 1995, Mr. Obama was appointed the first chairman of the board, which handled fiscal matters. Mr. Ayers co-chaired the foundation’s other key body, the “Collaborative,” which shaped education policy. ,,,
The CAC’s agenda flowed from Mr. Ayers’s educational philosophy, which called for infusing students and their parents with a radical political commitment, and which downplayed achievement tests in favor of activism. In the mid-1960s, Mr. Ayers taught at a radical alternative school, and served as a community organizer in Cleveland’s ghetto. …
Mr. Ayers is the founder of the “small schools” movement (heavily funded by CAC), in which individual schools built around specific political themes push students to “confront issues of inequity, war, and violence.” He believes teacher education programs should serve as “sites of resistance” to an oppressive system. (His teacher-training programs were also CAC funded.) The point, says Mr. Ayers in his “Teaching Toward Freedom,” is to “teach against oppression,” against America’s history of evil and racism, thereby forcing social transformation.
By its own account, the Annenberg Challenge was a failure. There was no effect on student achievement, and the $100 million was largely wasted.
The Constitution does not give authority over education to the federal government. We really need to get the federal government out of the education business. The founders were remarkably sensible.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Law, Politics, Statism | Tags: Restoring "Balance", The Obama Administration, The Regulatory State
President Obama has written an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal editorial page. He announced a new executive order to restore “balance” to federal regulation and search out rules that impede job creation and economic growth.
Not his regulations, mind you; but for example, he mentioned the defunct EPA rule that treated saccharin as hazardous waste. After a political voter rebuke largely based on regulatory overkill, he needs to show some willingness to take his foot off the gas. He is, he says, willing to concede that he dimly hears the screams of anguish from the business community.
Liberals have refused for years to hear the complaints from the business community that their agenda created uncertainty and harmed the economy. Today, they woke up to discover their leader on the hated editorial page of the Wall Street Journal — saying that there might be “unreasonable burdens on business — burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs.”
President Obama goes on to tell us how effective all his regulation for the auto industry was.
The EPA and the Department of Transportation worked with auto makers, labor unions, states like California, and environmental advocates this past spring to turn a tangle of conflicting rules into one aggressive new standard [on the fuel-economy standards for cars and trucks]. It was a victory for car companies that wanted regulatory certainty, for consumers who will pay less at the pump, for our security, as we save 1.8 billion barrels of oil, and for the environment as we reduce pollution.
There is so much wrong with that statement that it is breathtaking. Singling the EPA out as an example of “smart” regulation is telling. There is no agency of government that is more busily issuing useless regulations that do incalculable damage. But it helps to make it clear that any moves toward reform of regulation will be tactical and cosmetic, rather than substantive.
President Obama believes in regulation. He believes in lots of regulation. You simply cannot have ordinary people and businesses acting without the heavy hand of wise government to keep them from making foolish decisions and taking unfortunate actions. Government knows best. Obama is demonstrating a measured cosmetic move to the center, and a new cosmetic civility. Pay no attention to his words — pay attention to his actions when Congress tries to temper the administration’s regulatory overreach.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Health Care, Junk Science, National Security, Taxes | Tags: The Obama Administration, The Opinions of the Elites, The Political War
Time Magazine’s Mark Halperin writes on “Why Obama is Losing the Political War.”
With the exception of core Obama Administration loyalists, most politically engaged elites have reached the same conclusions: the White House is in over its head, isolated, insular, arrogant and clueless about how to get along with or persuade members of Congress, the media, the business community or working-class voters. This view is held by Fox News pundits, executives and anchors at the major old-media outlets, reporters who cover the White House, Democratic and Republican congressional leaders and governors, many Democratic business people who raised big money for Obama in 2008, and even some members of the Administration just beyond the inner circle.On Friday, after the release of the latest bleak unemployment data — the last major jobs figures before the midterms — Obama said, “Putting the American people back to work, expanding opportunity, rebuilding the economic security of the middle class is the moral and national challenge of our time.” But elites feel the President has failed to meet that challenge and are convinced he will be unable to do so in the remainder of his term. Moreover, there is a growing perception that Obama’s decisions are causing harm — that businesses are being hurt by the Administration’s legislation and that economic recovery is stalling because of the uncertainty surrounding energy policy, health care, deficits, housing, immigration and spending.
For whatever reason, the president settled upon a vast Keynesian stimulus to give the economy a corrective jolt. Though he talked of “shovel-ready projects’ and “repairing infrastructure” most of the money went to governmental agencies and state governments. Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Christina Romer was reduced to reading print-outs from Keynesian computer programs that estimated how many jobs should be “created” from how many dollars dumped into the economy. His economic advisers were asked to “run the numbers,” not to have any influence on policy.
The economy saved, Obama turned his attention back to transforming America, and ordered up a massive reform of health care, which was not high on anybody’s list and began investing in a “clean energy economy” which was not even on anybody’s list. The public is fairly dubious that there is any global warming.
With policies poorly considered and executed, he kept adding thousands more to the unemployment rolls; shutting down car dealers, slapping a moratorium on oil drilling everywhere, investing in “clean energy” that sent the money to China and Spain. With that taken care of, he turned his attention to ‘reforming’ Wall Street, building high-speed trains, wind farms and solar arrays while ignoring the very large elephant in the room — millions of Americans unable to find work. Annoying, so he went on vacation.
I don’t think anyone in the administration has any idea how jobs are created. Things like tax-cuts are Republican things. The private business sector is something that Republicans are always talking about and Obama is out there now trying to demonize the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber of Commerce! Who does he think hires people?
I don’t think there is the slightest chance that President Obama will shift to the center after the election. We’ll see.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Energy, Environment, National Security | Tags: Complaints and Accomplishments, Hubris and Incompetence, The Obama Administration
“The Obama administration said today that its economic policies, especially the Recovery Act, have boosted growth and employment in the United States at a pace quicker than anticipated.”
“The White House is pushing back against complaints from House Democrats that President Obama is undermining their prospects for 2010 with a memo authored by a senior administration official detailing what the White House is doing to preserve control of Congress. The President, vice president, first lady, Cabinet officers and senior staff have participated in 187 political events in the last 18 months, all with the intention of directly supporting candidates on the ballot in 2010…”
All these achievements, and the President isn’t getting any credit. Financial reform, just a couple of months after passage of a comprehensive health care reform, 2.5 to 3.6 million jobs saved or created, and GDP raised by 2.7% to 3.2% through June 20.
Yet the mystery remains; Having moved swiftly toward achieving the very policy objectives he promised voters as a candidate, Obama is still widely perceived as flirting with a failed presidency.
Eric Alterman, in a column that drew wide notice, wrote in The Nation that most liberals think the president is a big disappointment.” House Democrats are in near-insurrection after White House press secretary Robert Gibbs stated the obvious — that the party has a chance of losing the House under Obama’s watch. …
The reality is the opposite. You can argue over whether Obama’s achievements are good or bad on the merits. But, especially after Thursday’s vote, you can’t argue that Obama is not getting things done. To the contrary, he has, as promised, covered the uninsured, tightened regulations, started to wind down the war in Iraq and shifted focus and resources to Afghanistan, injected more competition into the education system and edged closer to a big energy bill.
Elsewhere, “journalist Eric Alterman…blames a broken system in Washington that he says allows the minority party to rule with impunity — and special interests and big money to dictate legislative policy.” “The system is rigged,” he concludes, “and it’s rigged against us.” His essay is subtitled:”Why a progressive presidency is impossible for now.”
I would be delighted if a progressive presidency is impossible for now, or forever. They certainly make a mess of things, but there is a rather large disconnect here. How anyone can conclude that a minority party “rules with impunity” when the “progressives” control the House and the Senate with an iron fist, and do exactly as they please with no input from Republicans? “From the beginning, the stimulus bill was viewed as containing too many compromises in a futile attempt to garner Republican support.” Huh? What attempt?
“It’s open season on Obama, whom so many hoped would lead us out of the neo-liberal wilderness,” Firedoglake blogger Les Leopold declared… “He once was a community organizer and ought to know how working people have suffered through a generation of tax breaks for the rich, Wall Street deregulation and unfair competition. When the economy crashed, he was in the perfect position to limit the unjustified pay levels on Wall Street.”
I don’t know what planet these people live on, but it’s not this one. The “perpetually discontented” who demand that everything be fixed so it is no longer annoying, will never be satisfied. The perfection they desire is unattainable, wouldn’t work, and is quite impossible, for it does not take into account ordinary human nature.
The marvelous economic progress exists only in Christina Romer’s magic Keynesian computer where you insert spending, multiply by the mythical Keynesian multiplier, and get wonderful numbers of jobs saved and created. But that works in a world where, as Nancy Pelosi insists, “extending unemployment benefits creates jobs.” In the real world the moratorium on drilling in the Gulf has added 35,000 to 50,000 more highly paid workers to the unemployment rolls.
If you consider passing a $862 billion stimulus program a great accomplishment, but neglect to consider the fact that it didn’t work and was mostly wasted money; and if you consider creating jobs out of a computer program, much as global warming was created out of a flawed computer program a great accomplishment; and if you consider passing a financial reform bill an accomplishment though it does not address the sources of the financial crisis, correct the ‘too-big-to-fail problem or even consider reforming Fannie and Freddie — well, why is anyone upset? Isn’t it all just what Obama promised?
The White House has a hubris problem. They are in trouble, but they deny any responsibility for that fact. It is the fault of the previous administration. And the White House has a communication problem. The communication problem deals with words that are meant only to please the audience to whom they are addressed. They have no permanent meaning. They will be discarded in the increasingly voluminous pile to be found under the bus.