“Washington, of course, aside from being one of the most mismanaged, crime-ridden cities on the planet, is a place where 535 federal legislators and about 38,000 lobbyists work at confiscating and redistributing the incomes of the American people.”
Charley Reese (1937-2013) American syndicated columnist, Conservative Chronicle, Sept 20, 1995
Just 29% think President Obama has done a good job managing the VA in the wake of the department’s patient-care scandal, according to the latest IBD/TIPP poll, while 43% surveyed say he’s done a poor job and 22% rate his performance as only average. Meanwhile, 63% say Obama was either disengaged (29%) or that he “knows more than he claims” (34%) about the scandal…
The public also overwhelmingly rejects the notion that money was the chief reason for the VA scandal.
Fully 70% of those surveyed in the June poll say poor management of available resources was the main problem at the VA; just 20% believe it was lack of money. These views hold true across the entire demographic and ideological range surveyed in the poll…
The scandal has also raised concerns among the public about government-run health care in general. More than three-quarters of those surveyed (76%) say they are concerned about “a government health system in light of news stories about the VA situation.” Even among Democrats, 58% say the scandal raised concerns…
Just 39% are satisfied with the direction of the country, down from 41% in May. Only 17% say past discrimination justifies preferential treatment of one race over another.
John Merline, Investor’s Business Daily
June 3, 2014
The 36 economically significant regulations issued by the Obama administration increase consumer prices by more than $11,000, according to a study from Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy at the American Action Forum.
Regulations are deemed economically significant if they carry annual economic impacts greater than $100 million. Batkins looked at more than 50 rules that were determined to impact consumers, 36 of which quantified those impacts. The study added together the consumer price impact of those 36 regulations, dividing the price increases into six categories and estimating the increased cost that a single American consumer would pay due to the regulations. The regulations were found to increase prices for vehicles, household goods and food, thus having profound implications on the broader economy. For just one consumer, the regulations increased the prices of the following consumer items:
•• Vehicles: $9,150
•• Household consumer products: $1,639
•• Mortgage: $362 annually
•• Energy: $135 annually
•• Health Care: $108 annually
•• Food: $14 annually
Regulations have the largest impact on the prices of vehicles due to the combined effects of fuel efficiency, safety and emissions standards, in addition to regulations on combination trucks. Recently, the EPA issued fuel efficiency regulations, concluding that a one percent increase in vehicle prices results in a one percent decrease in sales. A $3,100 vehicle price hike, writes Batkins, could decrease vehicle sales by 10 percent, costing jobs and billions of dollars in sales revenue.
While the study finds a total $11,000 in higher consumer prices, it looked at just 36 rules and used federal agency-provided data. Outside estimates of regulatory costs are even higher.
National Center for Policy Analysis
June 2, 2014
In his seminal work, “Free to Choose,” Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman outlined his case for universal school choice, advocating for robust voucher systems for elementary and secondary education that “would give parents at all income levels freedom to choose the schools their children attend.” (emphasis added) Friedman’s work laid the foundation for the broader school choice movement. He knew there would be opposition to his proposal departing from the one-size-fits-all status quo. But he also knew, as he wrote in Free to Choose, that school choice options such as vouchers would “keep emerging with more and more support.” He was right.
The school choice movement is proliferating like never before. States traditionally have worked to ensure children most at risk of being underserved by their neighborhood schools are prioritized in accessing school choice options – children from low-income families and children with special needs, for example. But today, states have the opportunity to think bigger about educational freedom—for all children, from all levels of income. As of 2014, there are 40 private school choice programs in 24 states and the District of Columbia. In 2011, Arizona passed the nation’s first education savings account option, advancing the notion of “School Choice 2.0.” … More
School choice raises all boats, for all children. As University of Arkansas professor Jay Greene writes, “Suburbanites need education reform for the sake of their own children and not just for the poor kids in the big cities. If suburban elites commit to education reform for their own children, we may finally get improvement for low-income kids in the cities as well.” Broader educational opportunity creates competitive pressure on public schools, which in turn benefits children who choose to attend…
Friedman’s vision for school choice was not confined to a particular demographic or geographic area. Rather, he knew expanding opportunity across income levels would help both the poor and the affluent alike by creating a healthy competitive pressure on public schools and by empowering the ones who know their children best—parents—to choose the best educational options for their children. Research shows parents are more satisfied with their child’s education when they have the power to choose.
School choice options should be designed to give every child an opportunity to receive the best education possible. That is a 21st century vision for education reform.
Brittany Corona, The Heritage Foundation
June 2, 2014
“Where did this culture of contempt for our men and women in uniform come from? This story is a part of a much larger narrative — a story of the last 50 years of American history and how we changed as a people,” Mr. Molen writes in The Wrap, a film industry news site. “When American troops returned from World War II, they were hailed as heroes. When they returned from Vietnam, they were spat upon, ridiculed, shamed, derided, mocked and taunted. What changed? We did, because we began to listen to a new narrative about America and we believed it.”
The producer adds, “A half-century later, those who spat upon our troops — both figuratively and literally — are now in positions of power and influence in Hollywood, Washington, in academia and yes, maybe even in the offices of VA administrators, and their ethos rules. Their actions and inaction speak louder than words.”
Perhaps a few of them were at recent college commencements acting out in the name of political correctness. Incidentally, Mr. Molen’s upcoming film “America”, written and directed by Dinesh D’Souza, will be in theaters July 2.
Mr. Molen isn’t the only one who faults our impaired culture. The Government Accountability Office investigative interim report released this week “confirmed that the dysfunction of the VA extends well beyond poor patient care. A perverse culture — in which patient data are purposely falsified — has taken hold of the institution whose sole mission is to provide medical care for those who defended our freedom,” says Rep. Scott Rigell, Virginia Republican. “No organization can excel when this type of culture takes root.”
Jennifer Harper, Inside the Beltway
May 29, 2014
Almost nobody in Japan heard about the Battle of Midway until after the war. The Emperor Hirohito, upon hearing of the debacle ordered a comprehensive cover-up. The wounded were isolated on hospital ships. All mail was censored. Surviving enlisted men and officers were held incommunicado until they could be shipped off to distant battlefields from where it was hoped they would never return. The sunken ships themselves were gradually written off over the course of the war until their loss blended in with the general demise of the imperial fleet. In order to coordinate this effort Hirohito created a special office of cabinet rank. It worked perfectly. If the US had not won World War 2 Midway would never have existed in Japanese history…
Cohen and Gooch propose that all military failures fall into three basic categories: failure to learn from the past, failure to anticipate what the future may bring, and failure to adapt to the immediate circumstances on the battlefield. They further note that when one of these three basic failures occurs in isolation (known as a simple failure), the results, while unpleasant, can often also be overcome. Aggregate failures occur when two of the basic failure types, usually learning and anticipation, take place simultaneously, and these are more difficult to surmount. Finally, at the apex of failure stand those rare events when all three basic failures occur simultaneously-an event known as catastrophic failure. In such an occurrence, the result is usually a disaster of such scope that recovery is impossible…
The curious thing about September 11, 2012 — the day of the Benghazhi attack — is that for some reason it marks the decline of the Obama presidency as clearly as a milepost. We are told by the papers that nothing much happened on that day. A riot in a far-away country. A few people killed. And yet … it may be coincidental, but from that day the administration’s foreign policy seemed inexplicably hexed. The Arab Spring ground to a halt. The Secretary of State ‘resigned’. The CIA Director was cast out in disgrace. Not long after, Obama had to withdraw his Red Line in Syria. Al-Qaeda, whose eulogy he had pronounced appeared with disturbing force throughout Africa, South Asia and the Arabian Peninsula. Almost as if on cue, Russia made an unexpected return to the world stage, first in Syria, then in the Iranian nuclear negotiations.
Worse was to follow. America’s premier intelligence organization, the National Security Agency, was taken apart in public and the man who took its secrets, Edward Snowden, decamped to Moscow with a laptop full of secrets. But it was all just a curtain raiser to the dismemberment of Ukraine and the disaster in Eastern Europe… And still there’s no acknowledgement of anything being fundamentally wrong. As with the Japanese at Midway, we’ve all felt a change in the beat of the engines; a difference in the progress of the hull. One person who might understand why the Obama boat is sputtering is fleeing the scene while avoiding an explanation is Hillary… But since the NYT is offering a conjecture of surpassing thinness, why not offer another, so long as it is understood that it is merely guesswork. Here goes: the day the Obama presidency died.
Benghazi had its roots in an alternative theory of foreign policy formed in Obama’s team at around the time of the Surge in Iraq. From that experience, Obama’s advisers persuaded him that it would be possible to “turn” America’s enemies by taking control of them instead of fighting them. It was a dazzling prospect which offered victory on the cheap.
It was to be built on three pillars: covert action, targeted assassinations and diplomacy. The idea was simple, instead of relying on the regular military, the Obama administration would take over the most dangerous jihadi groups through intelligence agencies. Through this mechanism they would become their patrons and cement the relationship with diplomatic deals with their Gulf funders. Drones and hunter killer squads would be employed to promote chosen intelligence assets — American agents — to positions of responsibility in the terror cells. The drones would clear the way for designated jihadis to rise within the ranks. Eventually America would own the jihad and neuter it from within… Don’t tell anyone and conduct a secret foreign and counter-terrorist policy, which when it succeeded could be unveiled as proof of Obama’s genius…
So let me insert a guess into the field. Suppose Benghazi was the night when the administration’s secret policy fell apart. In one devastating attack Obama — and Hillary — realized they had been double crossed and their whole theory had been a dream. In an instant it was plain they could not control the jihad from the inside… Because they had pursued the policy secretly and possibly illegally. Because of 2012. Because like Hirohito, Obama could do no wrong, so there was nothing but to protect the Throne of Heaven from the accusation of fallibility and the guilt of cover-up. So they lied… He went and committed all three categories of failure…
Suppose Benghazi was a catastrophic failure, made all the more dangerous by the possibility that Russia had a hand in it. If Putin, having studied how Reagan used the Jihad to bring down Soviet Union, played the same game on Barack Hussein Obama, it would explain many otherwise inexplicable things. The role of Snowden. The disgrace of Petraeus. The exile of anyone and anything to do with Benghazi. The kid-gloves treatment of the Ansar attackers. The strange enmity between Hillary and Obama. Each is bound by the same secret. Each lives in fear of the same smoldering fire burning in the bowels of the administration.
The lie is much more dangerous than the truth. America can live with an Obama mistake. But it can’t live with an Obama who cannot acknowledge his mistakes.
Richard Fernandez, Free Republic
May 11, 2014
Our president went to West Point this week, looked over all his works in shaping American foreign policy and the world in general … and pronounced it good. “This is American leadership,” he concluded. “This is American strength.”
Gentle (and unbiased) Reader can look around at the results of this president’s decisions, or rather non-decisions, and judge the truth of that conclusion for himself… Once upon a similar time, when another celebrated leader was proclaiming Peace in Our Time to applause and acclaim, a lone voice was heard daring to speak truth to power as he leveled with the people of a soon to be embattled island. For appeasement would soon enough produce not peace but the most awful war in man’s history:
“I will begin by saying what everybody would like to ignore or forget but which nevertheless must be stated, namely, that we have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat. … And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigor, we arise again and make our stand for freedom as in the olden time.” –Winston Churchill in the House of Commons, October 5, 1938.
Who now will speak such home truths to the American people? Not this president, as his self-satisfied and self-celebrating address to the cadets at West Point demonstrates. All his policies must be working just fine, for he says so.
But it is not Barack Obama’s purblind view of a world collapsing all around him and the rest of us that was the saddest part of his rhetorical performance this week, with its straw arguments against straw men and its smug dismissals of anyone who can see further than all his happy-talk. No, it is not what he said but what he didn’t that represents the greatest danger to both world peace and America’s sense of honor, which are inextricably bound together.
What saddens most about Mr. Obama’s rhetoric is the absence of the kind of moral vision that other presidents have shown in the face of all too real and all too growing threats. Where is the spirit of Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan and all those other leaders who understood how wrong, and how dangerous, the old siren songs of American isolationism can be? They advocated rearmament not just in the material sense but moral rearmament. America will yet regain her old spirit. And her old vision. For we all live in hope. But hope is no substitute for policy.
This is no time to go wobbly.
Paul Greenberg [Editorial Page Editor, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette], TownHall
May 30, 2014
What Obama really believes in, of course, is his own exceptionalism. This belief is fully justified. Some might point to Jimmy Carter as proof that Obama isn’t all that exceptional. Indeed, Scott refers to this stage of the time of Obama as “the killer rabbit phase,” a reference to the Carter presidency. But the perverse spectacle Obama provides goes far beyond Carter’s laughable ineffectualness. For example, the spectacle involving the Bergdahls transcends anything Carter could have concocted (at least during his presidency). Any president can botch a complicated rescue mission, as Carter did. Only an exceptional one could produce the Homeland meets Manchurian Candidate production that Obama has delivered by securing the release of Bowe Bergdahl.
Nearly all of the exceptional elements of Obamaism are present. The president appeases a deadly enemy (recall his statement that he hopes through the exchange to gain the trust of the Taliban); makes life more dangerous for an ally we are about to abandon (Afghanistan will bear the brunt of the terrorism unleashed by the five Taliban commanders); and disregards American law (which required him to consult with Congress). Moreover, he does all of this on behalf of an anti-American deserter and his jihadist-sympathizing father. You couldn’t make this up.
Jimmy Carter had a knack for putting himself in absurd and humiliating circumstances. But I doubt that Carter could have staged anything like the White House photo opportunity with Bergdahl’s parents. There was Obama, embracing the Taliban’s number one American sympathizer. And there was that sympathizer, breaking into Pashto, the dialect of southern Afghanistan. Pretty exceptional. I suppose we should be grateful that Obama didn’t respond in Pashto.
As Bill Otis says, I’m not sure what more Obama can do to damage this country, but I’m sure we’ll soon find out.
Paul Mirengoff, PowerLine
June 3, 2014
Labor unions criticized the Environmental Protection Agency’s new regulations on carbon emissions from power plants on Monday, highlighting growing tensions between the environmentalist and working class arms of the Democratic Party. Those tensions have come to the forefront as leading Democrats embrace environmentalist policies backed by billionaire political donors that are generally opposed by members of the party’s rank and file base. Some labor unions, groups generally considered loyally Democratic, rebelled on Monday after the EPA released its new regulations, which studies have suggested will carry hefty economic costs.
United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) president Cecil Roberts blasted the proposal, saying it would leave tens of thousands of the union’s members unemployed. “The proposed rule … will lead to long-term and irreversible job losses for thousands of coal miners, electrical workers, utility workers, boilermakers, railroad workers and others without achieving any significant reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions,” Roberts said in a statement.
According to a UMWA analysis, Roberts said, the rule will cause 75,000 job losses in the coal sector by 2020, rising to 152,000 by 2035. “When a U.S. government economic multiplier used to calculate the impact of job losses is applied to the entire economy, we estimate that the total impact will be about 485,000 permanent jobs lost,” Roberts said…
The regulations also drew fire on Monday from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), which warned they “focus solely on the environmental aspect of public policy at the expense of balancing our nation’s economic and energy needs.” The IBEW cautioned against attempts to reduce carbon emissions “at the expense of a balanced energy portfolio capable of meeting the demands of modern society.”
“The jobs of thousands of working men and women and the well-being of their communities are also worthy of saving,” the union said.
IBEW has previously split with President Barack Obama on key aspects of his energy policy agenda, including the Keystone XL pipeline, which the president has repeatedly refused to approve. The union has called Keystone “a vital project that would create 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs, generate $585 million in state and local taxes plus another $5 billion in property taxes and strengthen North America’s energy independence.”…
Some unions have blasted the president’s apparent political motives in delaying the pipeline, most recently in mid-April. “It’s clear the administration needs to grow a set of antlers, or perhaps take a lesson from Popeye and eat some spinach,” the president of the Laborers International Union of North America said at the time.
Lachlan Markay, Washington Free Press
June 2, 2014