The Intransigent Conservative
Monday, February 11, 2013
View the story "Monday's Menagerie (2/11/13)" on Storify
Monday's Menagerie (2/11/13)
· Mon, Feb 11 2013 18:02:56
Daniel Henninger writes that Obama’s laws are so big there are parts of them no one has ever seen.
Who wouldn't want to live in Washington?
It's a wonderful world, a place where every problem of life can be reduced to just two words. Gun control. Immigration reform. Climate control. The deficit, which of course can be solved in two words: a ‘balanced approach.’
Things so hard haven't been so simple since Tinker Bell taught children to fly in ‘Peter Pan,’ also with two words—pixie dust.
“Congress has 535 members who work inside the Capitol Building,
which you may notice is shaped like a bubble
. The rest of the United States consists of 313.9 million individuals spread across a 50-state land mass of more than 9.6 million square miles… No matter. Mr. Obama's Washington will try to write a gun law that applies in the same way everywhere for each of the nearly 314 million Americans.”
“Legislative grandiosity predates the Obama presidency.
But it has achieved its apotheosis in the past four years
. Barack Obama's politics aren't just large.
“Conservatives predictably object to all this, but one has to ask: How did liberals, especially on the left and without exception, become
such mute footmen
for Barack Obama's faceless conglomerate politics?”
“This is politics, ergo the goal is to acquire and exercise colossal power, at least for the pros at the top of the Democratic food chain.
Still, the evidence piles up daily that what Barack Obama is producing with his countrywide ‘investments’ is a blob, a morass, a mess
Henninger: Obama's Colossal Politics http://on.wsj.com/VF057MOpinion & Commentary
Wall Street Journal Review & Outlook writes that Washington “is in a fit of collective terror over the sequester,” but fear not, because most of the hysteria is baseless.
In reality, the sequester “will help the economy by leaving more capital for private investment.”
“The sequester that nobody seems to love
would cut an estimated $85 billion
from the budget this fiscal year starting in March. Half of the savings would come from defense and half from domestic discretionary programs. Medicare providers would take a 2% cut.”
“Republicans have rightly concluded after two years of being sucker-punched that the sequester is the main negotiating leverage they have
and may be the only way to restrain spending
. So now Democrats and a gaggle of interest groups are denouncing Mr. Obama's fiscal brainchild because the programs they cherish—from job training to education, to the EPA and energy subsidies, to money for Planned Parenthood—
are about to get chopped too
“More troublesome are the cuts in defense,
but for security not economic reasons
. The sequester cuts the Pentagon budget by 7%... But at least high priorities such as troop deployments are exempt from the cuts. And there is waste in the Pentagon: Start with the billions spent on ‘green energy’ programs at DOD, bases that are no longer needed, and runaway health-care costs. Mr. Obama could work with Congress to pass those reforms so as not to cut weapons and muscle,
but he has refused
The most disingenuous White House claim is that the sequester will hurt the economy
. Reality check: The cuts amount to about 0.5% of GDP. The theory that any and all government spending is ‘stimulus’ has been put to the test over the last five years,
and the result has been the weakest recovery in 75 years and trillion-dollar annual deficits
“The bad news for Congressional Democrats and their spending interests is that the noose only tightens after this year.
Mr. Obama's sequester mandates roughly $1.2 trillion of discretionary cuts over the next decade
. But if Democrats really want to avoid a sequester,
they should stop insisting on higher taxes
and start getting serious about modernizing the entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid that comprise the other 60% of government.
If they won't, then sequester away
The Unscary Sequester http://on.wsj.com/11N2VijOpinion & Commentary
Major Garrett reports that congressional Republicans are working to prove that they are tough enough to take the sequester. Obama wants to replace the sequester with different spending cuts
and, of course, tax increases
“Far more fascinating and revealing is how House and Senate Republicans who once denounced the sequester and regarded it as dangerous
now consider it the best—albeit imperfect—mechanism to reduce the deficit
. I can remember the day the Budget Control Act (which set the sequester in motion) was on the House floor and Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., said GOP leaders from Speaker John Boehner on down assured him—practically in blood-oath fashion—that Pentagon spending would never face the sequester buzz saw (half the annual discretionary cuts come from defense).
“Now, the saw is at full throttle, and congressional Republicans are guiding defense spending blade-ward
as if they were Ernie at Jason’s meat emporium, carving up Sunday rib eyes
“Republicans, especially in the House, have become
about negotiating any new budget deal with Obama. They are a defeated force and only keep the appearance of poking and prodding for more deficit reduction. Whether they lost the tax debate or not during the fiscal-cliff negotiations, Republicans believe they did. They know they lost the 2011 payroll-tax debate. They rolled over on the debt ceiling before even raising a paw in protest. Republicans haven’t turned into complete lapdogs on deficit reduction,
but they have become territorial on the sequester
, the only actual cuts in federal spending they’ve achieved and the only ones they imagine themselves achieving in the near future.
Futility had led to fixation
“Tea-party-inspired conservatives now say
the only thing worse than defense cuts is no cuts at all
. Increasingly, GOP rank and file
are nodding in agreement
. And GOP leaders now see sequester as the only point of leverage and accountability for Obama.
If he wants to replace spending cuts with higher taxes, Republicans will fight that battle
—and prefer it to clashes over default or a government shutdown. Obama owns the sequester as much as Republicans, and enforcing what is (spending cuts in law) beats fighting over what might be (default or shutdown).”
How Congressional Republicans came to love automatic spending cuts: http://njour.nl/TOS6IX (via @MajorCBS)National Journal
Halimah Abdullah writes that the voters are partly to blame for political partisanship, as we self-sort into neighborhoods and cities with likeminded people, which trickles up to our representatives and the policies they support.
Increasingly, people live in communities that are carefully crafted political echo chambers
, a political science professor at the University of Georgia, found that the 112th House “was roughly 50% more polarized in terms of makeup than that of the 102nd, which convened from 1991 to 1993”, and the 112th Senate “was more polarized than the 46th Senate, which was in office from 1879-1881, just after the Reconstruction era that followed the Civil War.”
“The dirty little secret is that redistricting only explains part of polarization,” said
, House of Representatives editor at the Cook Political Report. “
Congressional districts are polarized partly because Americans have polarized with their feet
. It makes it easier for partisan line drawers to draw those lines.”
“We don't think people move to be around others who vote like themselves. They are moving to be around people who are like themselves in every other sort of way,” said
author Bill Bishop
This is polarization based on choice and self-selection
. Being an adult is accepting lots of different ways of being. We are so unsure of our own identities that we are not as accepting as we could be of people of different identities.
In a sense we are getting what we demand from government. We demand our tribe wins
. So that's the fight. It becomes a fight of tribal differences.”
It's your fault: How our 'tribes' help create gridlock in Congress - http://wp.me/p4HKM-18SOCNN Political Ticker
Investigative reporter Luke Rosiak apprises that the “federal program subsidizing phones for the poor increased
from 6.8 million to 18 million recipients
from 2008 — the year it was expanded to include cell phones — to May 2012.”
“And fraud and abuse from the expansion have been far more extensive than expected, to the extent that tougher enforcement of long-existing rules is projected to bring in
enough money to finance the expansion of the program to provide low-income users with free Internet service
, according to the Federal Communications Commission report released last week.
Up to 15 percent of subscribers in the program are ineligible
, the FCC found.”
“The phones are intended for use in job searches and medical care. Receiving other government support, such as food stamps, subsidized housing and cash welfare makes a person eligible for the free phone service.”
Rep. Tim Griffin, Arkansas Republican
, has reintroduced a bill to combat what he calls ‘
Uncle Sam’s Unlimited Plan
,’ and restore it to
. Mr. Griffin’s attention was attracted to the program when his own wife received an application, and when constituents reported receiving unrequested phones mailed to deceased relatives.
The program doesn’t meet the efficacy threshold
that would warrant the government requiring consumers to fund the program, and
the FCC has done the ‘bare minimum’ to rein in abuse
, he said.”
'Lifeline" program subsidizing phones for the poor increased from 6.8M to 18M recipients from 2008 to May 2012. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/feb/5/fraud-and-abuse-grow-after-subsidized-telephone-pr/#ixzz2K9elRCLrLuke Rosiak
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, released a statement last week noting that the Obama Administration had shown some movement on the HHS mandate related to ObamaCare,
but still falls short of addressing the bishops’ concerns
. Dolan listed three key areas of remaining concern:
1. the narrow understanding of a religious ministry
2. compelling church ministries to fund and facilitate services such as contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization that violate Catholic teaching
3. disregard of the conscience rights of for-profit business owners
“(The Administration's proposal) appears
to offer second-class status to our first-class institutions
in Catholic health care, Catholic education and Catholic charities. HHS offers what it calls an '
' rather than accepting the fact that
these ministries are integral to our church
and worthy of the same exemption as our Catholic churches.”
“In obedience to our Judeo-Christian heritage,
we have consistently taught our people to live their lives during the week to reflect the same beliefs that they proclaim on the Sabbath
. We cannot now abandon them to be forced to violate their morally well-informed consciences.”
“Throughout the past year, we have been assured by the Administration that we will not have to refer, pay for, or negotiate for the mandated coverage.
We remain eager for the Administration to fulfill that pledge and to find acceptable solutions
—we will affirm any genuine progress that is made, and we will redouble our efforts to overcome obstacles or setbacks. Thus, we welcome and will take seriously the Administration's invitation to submit our concerns through formal comments, and we will do so in the hope that
an acceptable solution can be found that respects the consciences of all
. At the same time,
we will continue to stand united
with brother bishops, religious institutions, and individual citizens who seek redress in the courts
for as long as this is necessary
HHS Proposal Falls Short In Meeting Church Concerns; Bishops Look Forward To Addressing Issues With Administration http://ow.ly/hw9XvUSCCB
Peter Wehner writes that Obama originally campaigned on a theme, to “act in ways that respect international law and human rights and remove the stain (of enhanced interrogation techniques) from America’s reputation.” Now, his Administration has concluded that we can kill American citizens “if they are believed to be ‘senior operational leaders’ of al-Qaida or ‘an associated force’
even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.
“You can be excused if you’ve
missed Mr. Obama’s much-heralded due process element in all of this and
have a hard time reconciling Mr. Obama’s presidents-should-not-have-blanket-authority-to-do-whatever-they-wish-lectures… with his Justice Department’s expansive executive powers memo.”
“Let me suggest as well that a man who feels wholly at ease with drone strikes that have killed American citizens suspected of engaging in terrorist activities without the benefit of a trial and which have, in the process, killed hundreds of innocent people
should be a tad bit more careful when it comes to lecturing about the immorality of enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs)
“To put things in a slightly different way: During the 2008 campaign and much of the early part of his presidency, Barack Obama obsessively argued that waterboarding all of three individuals–September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and senior al-Qaeda leaders Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri–
was a violation of human rights and a grave moral offense
. Here’s the thing, though:
unlike Mr. Obama’s drone strikes, no American citizens, no terrorists and no innocent children have died due to waterboarding
. Yet the president’s press spokesman is defending Mr. Obama’s policies as ‘legal,’ ‘ethical,’ and ‘wise.’”
“…it is true that there is a serious argument to be made that
during wartime targeting terrorists, including Americans, with drones is justified
. But that justification probably best not come from someone who has spent much of the last half-dozen years or so
sermonizing against waterboarding
, accusing those who approved such policies of trashing American ideals and shredding our civil liberties, and
portraying himself as pure as the new-driven snow
Drone Strikes, Waterboarding, and Moral Preening http://ow.ly/htt1cPeter Wehner
Oren Dorell reports that even after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey testified last week to the Senate Armed Services Committee, there are many questions remaining about the attack on our Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
According to the
released in January by the Pentagon, the assault on the Consulate started at
(Washington, D.C. time), and after they were notified of the attack (
50 minutes after it started
), Panetta and Dempsey met for a previously scheduled meeting with Obama at the White House at
. The assault on the separate safe house in Benghazi started at
One important question remains unanswered: What was the President doing between 5:30 and 11:15 PM on the night of the Benghazi attacks?
the president didn't view this as a priority
that required him to stay in touch with his secdef (secretary of Defense) or the chairman of his joint chiefs," said
, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.
, the bodies of the four Americans killed during the attacks,
including the first ambassador killed in the line of duty in 33 years
, were flown from Benghazi to Tripoli.
Just 10 hours later
, Obama departed the White House to head to Las Vegas
for a campaign rally
“The testimony by Pentagon leaders answered some questions about the Sept. 11 attack, but not all. One answer -- concerning President Obama's role during the attack -- seems certain to generate controversy…
Panetta testified Thursday that he was up all night monitoring the situation and never heard from Obama, nor the president from him
“Panetta and Dempsey also said
they did not confer directly with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
, who was in charge of the embassy and
responsible for the staff's safety
“People armed with rifles and rocket-propelled grenades attacked the consulate in Benghazi and a safe house nearby. Video was provided in real time by a drone dispatched to the scene.”
“According to a State Department report and others,
diplomatic security personnel made repeated requests for air support
, and requests for unmanned drones to suppress the attackers,
but none arrived
Recall that Obama
was pressed twice
by Denver news anchor
on October 26th to clarify whether the embattled Americans were denied requests for help during the attack. Evading the questions, Obama responded: “Well, we are finding out exactly what happened. I can tell you, as I've said over the last couple of months since this happened, the minute I found out what was happening, I gave three very clear directives.
Number one, make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to. Number two, we're going to investigate exactly what happened so that it doesn't happen again. Number three, find out who did this so we can bring them to justice
Therefore, to summarize, Obama says that he gave a clear directive to make sure that we were doing whatever was needed to secure our personnel,
yet no manned or unmanned air support arrived, and no military assets were ever deployed
. So either his appointees ignored his orders, or he lied to Clark and never gave such orders.
It is clear that the Administration has worked hard to cover up Obama’s lack of action on the night of the Benghazi attacks
#Pentagon 's Leon Panetta & @Martin_Dempsey face tough questions on #Benghazi @USATODAY http://usat.ly/YWemTSOren Dorell
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