Monday, September 9, 2013
Following up on my previous post - Norman Podhoretz (WSJ) presents an excellent analysis of Barack Obama's misadventures in Syria and around the world. Mostly sincere, but with a small serving of tongue-in-cheek, he suggests that Obama's seeming incompetence on the world stage is actually a carefully planned strategy designed to diminish American power abroad.
Well, maybe. On the other hand, Obama's national security team includes Biden, Kerry, Hagel, Rice, Rhodes, Holder and Powers. The last time we saw a lineup this awful, its names were Kanehl, Chacon, Mantilla, Throneberry, Hickman and Choo Choo Coleman.
Also, In the well-worn tradition of Democrats using children as props to promote their idiocies, Nancy Pelosi put on exhibit her 5 year old grandson, who, after doubtlessly immersing himself in the around the clock coverage of the issue on CNN, asked her whether she was for or against U.S. war with Syria. Her response, "We're not talking about war; we're talking about action." utilized another customary Democratic tactic, using euphemism to obscure distasteful party policy. One might ask the congresswoman how she would describe North Korean warships (oops, sorry, action ships), parked off the coast of California, lobbing a couple hundred Tomahawk missiles in the general direction of San Francisco.
This is the same Pelosi, remember, that visited Syria in 2007 (when that country was actively engaged in supporting the terrorists fighting American forces in Iraq) and proclaimed, "the road to Damascus is a road to peace". The visit was part of the ongoing Democratic campaign to promote Bashar Assad as our "reformer" in the Middle East (as Hillary Clinton described him).
Now, that campaign has been shelved, not because of 100,000 dead and two million refugees but because Barack Obama went (per Mark Steyn) "off prompter".
Saturday, September 7, 2013
Up to the moment of decision, and even past it, he has seemed ambivalent, confused, unaware of the implications of his words and stands. From the "red line" comment to the "shot across the bow," from the White House leaks about the nature and limits of a planned strike to the president's recent, desperate inclusion of Congress, he has seemed consistently over his head. I have been thinking of the iconic image of American military leadership, Emanuel Leutze's painting "Washington Crossing the Delaware." There Washington stands, sturdy and resolute, looking toward the enemy on the opposite shore. If you imagine Mr. Obama in that moment he is turned, gesturing toward those in the back. "It's not my fault we're in this boat!" That's what "I didn't set a red line" and "My credibility is not at stake" sounded like.
More so than most of Barack Obama's debacles - (Guantanamo, "stimulus", "health care", the Russian "reset", the botched Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns, Benghazi, IRS, sequester) - the mismanagement of the situation in Syria puts all of his inadequacies and unsavory characteristics on clear display - the sloppy, imprecise, undisciplined rhetoric ("...move a whole bunch of chemical weapons"), the lack of knowledge and insight, the absence of thoughtful reflection, the paralyzing indecisiveness, the naivete and inexperience, the shunning of responsibility, the comically unwarranted arrogance, and of course, the placing of political considerations above all else.
Here’s how deterrence works in the Middle East. Syria, long committed to the destruction of Israel, has not engaged Israel militarily in 30 years. Why? Because it recognizes Israel as a serious adversary with serious policies.
In this year alone, Israel has four times launched airstrikes within Syria. No Syrian response. How did Israel get away with it? Israel had announced that it would not tolerate Assad’s acquiring or transferring to Hezbollah advanced weaponry. No grandiloquent speeches by the Israeli foreign minister. No leaked target lists. Indeed, the Israelis didn’t acknowledge the strikes even after they had carried them out. Unlike the American president, they have no interest in basking in perceived toughness. They care only about effect. They care about just one audience — the party to be deterred, namely Assad and his allies.
Assad knows who did it. He didn’t have to see the Israeli prime minister preening about it on world television.
...There’s no strategy, no purpose here other than helping Obama escape self-inflicted humiliation.
Meanwhile, on the domestic front...In August, 2013, the labor force participation rate hit its lowest level, 63.2%, since 1978 when Jimmy Carter (who else?) was president, Reza Pahlavi ruled Iran, Thurman Munson and Reggie Jackson were leading the NY Yankees to their second straight championship and the cutting edge of consumer computer technology, the TI 99/4, with 16K RAM, was still a year away from release.
Under normal, or rather, better, circumstances - with a marginally less incompetent president not focused on confiscating, redistributing and thus, squandering, the nation's wealth - we would currently be experiencing a period of prosperity rivaling those most notable in American history - the Industrial Revolution of the late 19th century, the two post World War eras and the period of development of the Internet in the late 1990s. The ongoing technological revolution in fossil fuel and natural gas procurement, hindered at every turn by Obama and his colleagues, should be providing us with the benefits of outsized GDP growth, low unemployment and concomitant debt reduction. Instead, with increasing federal spending and taxes, a rapidly growing debt (currently $17 trillion), a crushing regulatory burden and the looming shadow of Obamacare, we get this...
According to the Sentier research, households headed by single women, with and without children present, saw their incomes fall by roughly 7%. Those under age 25 experienced an income decline of 9.6%. Black heads of households saw their income tumble by 10.9%, while Hispanic heads-of-households' income fell 4.5%, slightly more than the national average. The incomes of workers with a high-school diploma or less fell by about 8% (-6.9% for those with less than a high-school diploma and -9.3% for those with only a high-school diploma).
To put that into dollar terms, in the four years between the time the Obama recovery began in June 2009 and June of this year, median black household income fell by just over $4,000, Hispanic households lost $2,000 and female-headed households lost $2,300.
The unemployment numbers show pretty much the same pattern. July's Bureau of Labor Statistics data (the most recent available) show a national unemployment rate of 7.4%. The highest jobless rates by far are for key components of the Obama voter bloc: blacks (12.6%), Hispanics (9.4%), those with less than a high-school diploma (11%) and teens (23.7%).
Moore notes that the groups he cited were those most likely to vote for Barack Obama. Call it social justice.
It's distressing but not surprising. In its search for a new CEO, Microsoft would never consider a candidate who was a technological novice philosophically opposed to its corporate mission. Yet, this is closely similar to what we have done by choosing Barack Obama (twice!) as our CEO. A novice at governance, Obama was an academic theoretician, a "community organizer", ideologically antagonistic to the nation's historical values and ignorant of the source of its greatness. He buys into the ludicrous Zinnian caricature of America as a racist, colonialist, imperialist bully. Never having produced a good or a service of any value to anybody, (some Chicago Law School educated radicals excepted), never having held a position of responsibility (until assuming the presidency!), he was and is clueless about the workings of the private sector. He expresses disdain for the one actual job he ever held, (“Like a spy behind enemy lines, I arrived every day at my mid-Manhattan office and sat at my computer terminal.”), for the work that millions of Americans dutifully perform daily, (“You didn't build that.”). Such a person is manifestly unqualified for his job. Only hard leftists, myopic sycophants, or the politically indifferent could fail to know this.
Mark Steyn's (essential) reading of the Syria situation is linked in my previous post.