There are plenty of reasons this is the lowest point of Barack Obama’s presidency. He hasn’t fulfilled a major legislative campaign promise, his signature second-term immigration initiative is paralyzed, and the administration may never entirely recover from the unforced errors surrounding the Affordable Care Act’s rollout. But don’t blame these problems alone for Obama’s record-low 40 percent approval rating. In truth, his agenda went off the rails on a crisp December morning last year, when Adam Lanza strolled into Sandy Hook Elementary and killed 20 children and six adults. Obama hasn’t gotten back on track since.
The Connecticut massacre set in motion a cascade of events that led the White House to burn through its only real window to accomplish its goals. The month before the shooting, Obama had won a convincing reelection and a modest popular mandate. One major liberal wish-list entry, immigration reform, seemed not only within reach but almost inevitable.
The old media won’t tell you so, but President Obama is facing a revolt from within his own political party. It was bound to happen once the dimensions of the ObamaCare disaster started to become obvious. Yesterday, I pointed out that Charles Rangel is an early indicator of the discontent bubbling beneath the surface, and that he is freer to speak than non-black Democrats. But today we have another leading indicator. Tony Lee of Breitbart:
A veteran Washington adviser who has worked for four Presidents on both sides of the political aisle said that the stunning Government Accountability Report report that found President Barack Obama has not had a one-on-one meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius since the passage of Obamacare over three years ago is an indictment of the entire White House operation and shows that the Obama administration has bordered on “malfeasance.”
“I have no doubt the White House is right, that Secretary Sebelius was in several group meetings with the president about health care,” Gergen caveated, “but the whole point is, there was nobody in charge in the administration.”
The Baby Jesus has been kicked off Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina, according to an organization who relishes any opportunity to eradicate Christianity from the U.S. military.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation praised officials at Shaw Air Force Base for removing a Nativity scene located near Memorial Lake on Friday. The traditional Nativity included plastic statues of Mary, Joseph, the Baby Jesus and an assortment of animals.
Apparently, an undisclosed number of Airmen were so emotionally troubled by the sight of a manger scene that they immediately notified the MRFF.
I can only imagine the psychological damage they must have suffered as a result of glancing at the plastic statues. I hope no one needed hospitalization, God forbid.
The MRFF’s Paul Loebe wrote in a statement that since the display was not erected near a chapel, it was illegal.
“It was very sectarian in nature and a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution as well as a blatant violation of Air Force Instruction 1-1, Section 2.11,” he said.
Aaron Key wasn’t sure he wanted a tattoo on his neck. Especially one of a giant squid smoking a joint.
But the guys running Squid’s Smoke Shop in Portland, Ore., convinced him: It would be a perfect way to promote their store.
They would even pay him and a friend $150 apiece if they agreed to turn their bodies into walking billboards.
Key, who is mentally disabled, was swayed.
He and his friend, Marquis Glover, liked Squid’s. It was their hangout. The 19-year-olds spent many afternoons there playing Xbox and chatting with the owner, “Squid,” and the store clerks.
So they took the money and got the ink etched on their necks, tentacles creeping down to their collarbones.
It would be months before the young men learned the whole thing was a setup. The guys running Squid’s were actually undercover ATF agents conducting a sting to get guns away from criminals and drugs off the street.
The good news, if you want to call it that, is that roughly 1.6 million Americans have enrolled in ObamaCare so far.
The not-so-good news is that 1.46 million of them actually signed up for Medicaid. If that trend continues, it could bankrupt both federal and state governments.
Medicaid is already America’s third-largest government program, trailing only Social Security and Medicare, as a proportion of the federal budget. Almost 8 cents out of every dollar that the federal government spends goes to Medicaid. That’s more than $265 billion per year.
Indeed, already Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid account for 48% of federal spending. Within the next few years, those three programs will eat up more than half of federal expenditures.
Critical analysis of Obama administration foreign policy is rendered more difficult by America’s neo-isolationist mood. The bloody conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistanhave left most Americans in no mood for further military engagements, particularly in regions long known for their tribal and sectarian strife.
The angst is spread far beyond the anti-war left, too. Middle America ‘s sons and daughters have witnessed enough carnage to make future adventurism a dubious proposition. Accordingly, leaders from both sides of the aisle understand that any proposed new mission must come with a compelling moral rationale, achievable “victory strategy” and viable “after care” plan.
America has now twice elected an anti-war activist uncomfortable with the sustained projection of U.S. military might. The record speaks for itself. The Obama “reset” began with a world apology tour directed to the Muslim world. Over time, it developed into incremental American retreat from the international stage. Indeed, it is now the French (of all people) engaged against Bashar Assad in Syria, the mullahs in Iran and a resurgent Vladimir Putin in Russia.
Pundits on the left and right agree: Obamacare will leave a mark on Democrats in the 2014 elections.
When the most hopey-changey of journalists, Ezra Klein of The Washington Post, writes “Change hurts, particularly in health care insurance, and it may well hurt Democrats in 2014,” you know we’re headed for a stormy political year.
Consider Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat from Arkansas.
Like a lot of Democrats, Pryor hitched his wagon to President Obama and Obamacare. He spent his Senate career on Harry Reid’s leash. What did he get for his obedience? An unhappy constituency and one stout opponent in 2014.
Tom Cotton, a representative from the 4th Congressional District in Arkansas — a graduate of Harvard Law School and an Army veteran with service in Iraq and Afghanistan — jumped into the race after Pryor’s approval rating dropped 18 percentage points in one year. The incumbent now sits at a vulnerable 33 percent.
The historian Jill Lepore wrote recently in The New Yorker that a study by political scientists of congressional roll-call votes going back to 1789, together with longitudinal poll results and voter interviews, found that the electorate and its representatives are more polarized today than at any time since the South seceded.
It is no accident that the passions aroused by secession are still with us today since the issues raised by the War of the Rebellion, as it was called, have never been fully resolved. Rather, they have lain dormant to haunt us in various guises since the Confederacy was brought to heel. In the nearly 150 years since Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, these tensions have lain dormant, tamped down in collective amnesia and denial. Compromise was often achieved at the expense of the very people the Civil War amendments were supposed to liberate: the breach of faith that nullified Reconstruction, the “Separate but Equal” decision, the subsequent decades of Jim Crow, the pangs of the Civil Rights movement, and its abridgment in what has now become an undoing of the Second Reconstruction.
To know your enemy, you must become your enemy -Sun Tzu
In war, poker, chess and many other endeavors, wise old hands will advise you to think like your opponent. We’ll try a related idea here by seeing if we can think like the members of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). Specifically, we’ll pretend to write part of the statement for the FOMC’s December 17/18 meeting.
We’ll work through the four or five sentences in the statement’s first paragraph that sum up the committee’s thoughts on recent developments. When the FOMC makes a policy change, it’s always linked to these four or five sentences. Here’s what they said in the laststatement (for the meeting on October 29/30):
Indicators of labor market conditions have shown some further improvement, but the unemployment rate remains elevated.
Socialist, Communist, and McCarthy-era blacklisted writers appear on the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) new “Books That Shaped Work in America” list celebrating the department’s 100th anniversary.
A Socialist leader, two Stalin apologists, two blacklisted ’50s screenwriters, and a suspected Marxist are included on the list, which DOL compiled based on recommendations from various figures in the community. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez described the program as an “online book club.”
Better not invite Tailgunner Joe McCarthy.
The first two reds on the list are Sidney and Beatrice Webb, who made it for their 1897 work “Industrial Democracy,” recommended by Carter administration Labor Secretary Ray Marshall.
They’re two of the most powerful African-American politicians in the land. And by most accounts, President Obama and Rep. Charles Rangel hate each other.
The most recently revealed salvo in their war of words — Obama’s assertion that Rangel is a “hack,” according to the political tome “Double Down” — is just one element of a long-dysfunctional relationship.
Rangel supported Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary, but the seeds of mutual disdain were planted before that, according to Democratic insiders and staffers for both pols.
“There’s a cultural difference. There was always a pecking order of who [Rangel] perceived as being part of the struggle during the civil-rights movement,” said Vincent Morgan, a Rangel aide from 2001 to 2004 who campaigned for Obama in 2008 and ran against the Harlem congressman in 2010.
Jonathan Strong’s report here at NRO noted the wincing consternation of GOP-leadership aides at utterances of the “i-word” during the testimony of prominent legal experts. For the Republican establishment, it seems, history begins and ends in the 1990s: No matter how times have perilously changed, any talk of shutdowns or impeachment is bad, bad, bad. Yes, the Obama “uber-presidency,” as left-of-center law professor Jonathan Turley called it, has enveloped the nation in what he conceded is “the most serious constitutional crisis . . . of my lifetime,” but GOP strategists would just as soon have us chattering about immigration “reform” and bravely balancing the federal budget by, oh, around 2040.
But as we discussed in this August column — back when the first anniversary of the Benghazi massacre loomed, back when many Americans still believed that if they liked their health-insurance plans, they could keep their health-insurance plans — it is not crazy to talk about impeaching President Obama. And if you’re going to have a congressional hearing about systematic presidential lawlessness, it is only natural that the word “impeachment” gets bandied about. Not only is impeachment the intended constitutional remedy for systematic presidential lawlessness; it is, practically speaking, the only remedy.