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In the Clown Car

Why We All Want The Republicans To Win

Blog From
November 3rd, 2014

Clown_Comic_Insert_v3Election day is tomorrow. It can’t come soon enough. Campaigns these days are longer, nastier and more devoid of substance than ever before. This year, Republicans are running against President Obama and his dismal poll numbers. Democrats are running against the GOP brand using every fear tactic that creative marketing minds can muster. The candidates themselves are up to their necks in mud slung too often and too hard.

 

Even so, it’s difficult to fault some of the electioneering propaganda. Obama is an incompetent chief executive. His trophy case of presidential successes is empty. His foreign policy weakness have made our Country less safe and cost thousands of civilians in Iraq and Syria their lives.

 

Other than the scandals, the President’s domestic agenda is mostly about Obamacare. You know how bad that has to be by the sheer number of exceptions, exemptions and delays the President has granted. Anything to put off the inevitable until after the election.

 

Against Obama’s failures stand the do-nothing Republicans. The Grand Old Party has no grand old agenda or anything approximating a new one. Party leaders like to blame the President for their inaction. They see their role as defensive, opposing his agenda as if they are the last bastion of democracy. A great excuse for putting nothing in their legislative win column.

 

Helping the Republicans immensely in their Obstacles R Us strategy is Harry Reid and his so-called reign of paralysis. Any glimmer of a good idea the Republicans manage to cobble together dies a slow death in Harry’s graveyard of aborted bills.

 

Not surprisingly, one of Obama’s favorite excuses for executive action is the failure of Congress to deliver solutions. The biggest reason for that failure is a divided Congress. The President will get plenty of opportunities to sign legislation if control of the Senate changes.

 

Should Obama then persist in taking executive action, he will trigger a true Constitutional crisis. To avoid that risk, Obama will be forced to compromise with Republicans so he can stomach the legislation they send him.

 

In an article published yesterday, Obama staffers claim that the notoriously disengaged President is even more so now. Perhaps his increasing disinterest will itself result in necessary compromise. It’s difficult to be difficult when you’re bored.

 

For their part, control of Congress will force Republicans to forge a national platform for issue resolution. They will also have to compromise with the President to get an acceptable version of the platform enacted. The Party Of No will have little choice but to become the Party Of Something That At Least Works.

 

Hold your nose if you have to, but vote Republican. Would that really be worse than leaving Harry Reid in charge for two more years?

Posted in In the Clown Car

 

 

Pants on Fire

Minimum Wage, Minimum Thought

Blog From
October 26th, 2014

LFU_PantsonFire_AshPile_vFOn Friday, Hillary Clinton made a campaign appearance on behalf of Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate, Martha Coakley. In a lackluster, disconnected performance, Clinton embarrassed herself by explaining her theories of minimum wage, job creation and trickle-down economics. Her thoughts were so whacky that they will surely come back to haunt her in two short years.

 

First, Clinton denied that raising the minimum wage was a job killer. As proof, she stated, “I been through this.” By that she meant the minimum wage hike while Bill was President and the hike that occurred during the Bush administration.

 

She praised her husband alleging that he “gave working families a raise in the 1990s.” She also praised herself for voting during the Bush Presidency to raise the wage. She claimed that, as a result of Clinton’s gift and her vote, millions of higher paying jobs were created.

 

Hillary then went on to say, “Don’t let anybody, don’t let anybody tell you that, uh, you know, it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs.” She explained by saying, “You know that old theory, trickle-down economics, that has been tried, that has failed. It has failed rather spectacularly.”

 

Sometimes, when people say stupid things, it is difficult to know where to begin in reply. But not this time. Her stumbling delivery aside, Hillary made two claims: (a) raising the minimum wage creates millions of jobs; (b) businesses and corporations do not create jobs because trickle-down economics is a failure.

 

The entire support for her first claim is Hillary’s declaration that “I been through this.” She then referred to two data blips in the 76-year history of the minimum wage, the hike in the 1990s and the later Bush hike. She’s right that those hikes did occur, although she’s wrong that President Clinton gave the first one to the masses. Like Bush, he merely signed the legislation passed by Congress.

 

Hillary is also wrong in her claim that millions of higher paying jobs were the result of those two actions. She has to know better than to make that claim because she was in the Senate when Bush signed the second increase into law.

 

The Bush hike was in three phases, beginning in 2007 and ending in mid-2009. Those were also the years of The Great Recession when unemployment in the U.S. doubled from 5% to 10%. By the end of the Recession in 2009, our unemployment rate was higher than most industrialized countries.

 

The number of jobs created since the Recession is still less than the number lost during the Recession. Worse, most observers attribute the recent drop in the unemployment rate to the fact that millions of people have stopped looking for work. (To the government, people are unemployed only if they have no job AND are seeking employment.) No economist credits the Bush minimum wage hike for creating a single job.

 

Hillary’s second claim that businesses and corporations do not create jobs is erroneous. First, corporations are businesses. Much more importantly, there is no serious debate over whether they create jobs. The debate is over which business segment creates the most jobs, start-ups, small businesses or large corporations.

 

Lastly, Clinton’s attempt to tie the alleged lack of job creation by businesses to trickle-down economics is both confused and foolish. Trickle-down economics is not a job creation theory. It is a wealth distribution pseudo-theory. The label was a spurious attempt to ridicule Reagan’s tax cuts by claiming that only the rich benefit directly. The rest of us are left to hope that the rich will spend enough of their gains to eventually trickle down into our wallets.

 

Hillary’s speech contained so many flawed chestnuts from the very far left that it should disqualify her from residing in the White House again. It also makes the listener wonder what has happened to her mental faculties. It appears that the new jerk in her knee has managed to jar the brain out of her head.

 

Posted in Pants on Fire

 

 

In the Clown Car

Snatching Defeat

Blog From
October 19th, 2014

Clown_Comic_Insert_v3Another mid-term election is a mere sixteen days away. Just a few weeks ago, pundits were predicting that the Republicans would take control of the Senate in January. There’s plenty of election history along with pretty charts and graphs to back that up. But, votes shouldn’t be counted before they’re cast because the electorate has a funny way of ignoring the polls.

 

Which party will capture the Senate? The seemingly endless campaign is pivoting on President Obama, one party running against and the other running away. The Republicans, of course, are the former. The President’s name is not on the ballot, but he does claim that his unpopular policies are indelibly stamped on it. Given his all-time low poll numbers, he just may be a closet GOP’er.

 

Not surprisingly, Democrats are running away from Obama with record speed. In his place, they are pushing their usual diversionary, “look over there” tactic. “Over there” is an old shelf in the DNC office. It holds dusty social wedge icons, the Tea Party voodoo doll, the climate change as “terrorism” thimble and the worn-out fear drum. This year the shelf’s lackluster contents are low on just about every voter’s radar.

 

The Dems did debut two new diversions this year. The first is their response to Obama’s Death Valley-low poll numbers on his war against ISIS. Voters can’t be that hard on Obama for not putting boots on the ground if the military just messes things up anyway.

 

Last summer the White House tried out the new bungling-military theme when it revealed the failed attempt to rescue James Foley from his ISIS captors. Foley was beheaded a few weeks later. The revelation was a two-fer. It justified not resorting to military action sooner than we did. It also embarrassed the Pentagon in retaliation for forcing Obama to act when he finally did. Without the Foley death, there would still be no ISIS opposition from the U.S.

 

Just last week, the New York Times published an article on chemical weapons of mass destruction found during Bush’s Iraq war. The article claimed that the Pentagon covered it up with negative fallout. Bad, bad military.

 

The second diversion is an instance of the fear drumbeat Dems pound out most of the time, especially in election years. Last week, they decided to blame the spread of Ebola in America on Republican budget cuts.

 

That false claim earned four Pinocchios from the Washington Post. It was intended to dull the criticism of the President’s initial no-big-deal response to the disease reaching American shores. His response is turning out to be very wrong. The CDC badly flubbed its management of the first cases of Ebola to develop in the U.S.

 

First, it grossly overstated our readiness to treat the disease when it announced, incorrectly, that any U.S. hospital can safely treat the patients. In fact, the treatment of Ebola and other similar infectious contagions requires specialized biocontainment centers. There are four in the U.S. with a total of 11 beds. Three of them are now occupied.

 

The CDC also failed to provide instruction on the proper treatment protocol and then blamed nurses for failing to follow it. Their union is understandably on the warpath and is now detailing just how inadequate the instruction was.

 

The tipping factor in the election may be the absence of a leader in the White House. One of the most irksome of Obama’s behaviors is turning every leadership challenge facing the Country into a political damage-control problem. His appointment last week of a spin doctor as the “Ebola Czar” is the kind of thing that can give the GOP control of the Senate.

 

Ron Klain is a long-time Democrat aid and was chief of staff to Al Gore and Joe Biden. He has no public health or medical qualifications. While the role is a management task, such a highly specialized challenge requires some degree of subject matter knowledge at the top.

 

Because Obama focuses on masking serious problems with claims of dirty politics, rancor abounds where bipartisanship should flourish. Unfortunately, solutions don’t materialize on their own. That fact and the superior success of the Republicans at getting out the mid-term vote may see the Dems snatching defeat this year.

 

Posted in In the Clown Car

 

 

Fast and Curious

Failure Is Not Our ISIS Strategy?

Blog From
October 14th, 2014

Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry informed anyone who would listen that losing the Syrian City of Kobani to ISIS is not a big deal. According to Kerry, the anti-ISIS coalition strategy is not defined by its failed efforts to save Kobani because the City is not a top priority.

 

Kobani may not define coalition strategy but it certainly condemns it. The battle to save the City is a microcosm of the coalition master plan in action. U.S. involvement has been limited to airstrikes on ISIS targets, including more than 50 sorties last week alone. Threatened regional partners with boots on the ground are aplenty.

 

And yet, the coalition, resisting the ISIS siege for nearly one month, is teetering on the brink of defeat. Last week, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby wrote the City off. In his words, U.S. airstrikes “are not going to save” Kobani. The reason, according to Kirby, is that airstrikes alone cannot stop ISIS.

 

So, where are the boots on the ground? Kobani sits on the Syrian border with Turkey. The Kurds who inhabit the City are excellent fighters and have been engaged in the struggle against ISIS from the beginning.

 

But, Turkey, a fickle NATO partner, prefers to see the Kurds lose so their footwear stayed home. Turkish forces even prevented Kurds in Turkey from crossing the border to fight on behalf of civilians trapped in the embattled City.

 

So far, the Turkish government refuses to let U.S. airstrikes originate from Turkish bases. Meanwhile, the Kurds defending Kobani without ground assistance have been overwhelmed by superior forces.

 

Kobani stands as a tragic testament to the foolishness of Obama’s steadfast refusal to include U.S. ground troops in his recipe to defeat ISIS. Relying on regional armies is merely wishful thinking. It’s more than the lack of trained, dedicated personnel, which stymie consequential contributions from Syrian rebels and Iraqi security forces.

 

It is also the political reality of the region, which caused the Kobani downfall. Today, there is also the concern that Iraq will turn to Iran, its ancient enemy, for sustained military aid to defeat ISIS. In fact, the Iranian military already claims credit for keeping Baghdad out of ISIS clutches.

 

Could there be a worse result of Obama’s policy than making Iraq beholden to Iran?

 

Maybe one or two. Attacks on the United States would be worse at least in the short run. After that, even the Obama administration would send ground troops to crush the Islamic militants where they live. But, U.S. concessions to Iran to contribute ground-bound fighters to the coalition would be a nightmare with long-term negative outcomes.

 

That Team Obama would do a deal with the devil for political expediency is not much of a stretch. Without the linchpin of adequate ground forces, we can expect the wheels to fly off the coalition bandwagon as it rolls across the larger region. As a former head of British Armed Forces remarked, “[D]on’t expect a guy in an airplane to be able to seize and hold terrain.”

 

Kerry did acknowledge yesterday that the impending slaughter of thousands of Kobani citizens, many elderly and unable to escape, is a tragedy. His words must be a great comfort to those who face impending death by the heavy blade of the ISIS juggernaut.

 

With the City’s fall, ISIS will control a strategic corridor stretching 62 miles between the ISIS capital in Syria to the Turkish border. In light of this truth, Kerry’s characterization of the loss as insignificant can only be described as a surge in political face-saving. That strategy should fail as well.

Posted in Fast and Curious

 

 

Under the Bus

The Buck Stops Over There

Blog From
September 30th, 2014

LFU_UndertheBusDriver_vFIn 1945 President Harry Truman had a sign placed on his desk in the White House that read, “The Buck Stops here!” Truman also used the phrase in speeches he gave between 1945 and his final address to the Nation in 1953.

 

During his farewell address Truman explained why he used the phrase. “The President – whoever he is – has to decide. He can’t pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That’s his job.”

 

As Truman indicated, “the buck stops here” derives from the expression, “passing the buck”, which means dumping responsibility on someone else. In this century, we call passing the buck the blame game, as in anyone’s fault but mine.

 

A lot of other things have changed in the last 69 years, like the professional sense of responsibility for the actions of those who work for you. President Obama tried to blame the current ISIS crisis on his National Intelligence Director, James Clapper. He criticized Clapper for downplaying the ISIS threat for too long.

 

Apparently, in castigating Clapper, Obama is trying to walk back his heavily disparaged “jayvee team” remark made in January of this year. But, he has stumbled badly. Critics have been quick to point out that, based on publically released assessments over the years, Obama had to have understood the threat.

 

Yet, the President allowed ISIS to grow in strength because appropriate action came with significant political risk. The recent beheadings finally tipped the political scale and Obama acted.

 

The President is not alone in his anyone-but-me mantra. Hillary Clinton tried a hybrid approach over her involvement in the Benghazi attack – “I take responsibility, but I was not making security decisions.” By the time the buck gets to Hillary, it’s only worth a penny or two.

 

Hillary’s self-assessment is a way of both taking and ducking responsibility in the same breath. It is especially disappointing after her claimed security expertise during the 2008 election. Most of us recall the campaign ad she ran against Obama questioning whom we want in the White House during a 3 am crisis.

 

To be fair, the Secretary of State wasn’t physically in the White House during the Benghazi attack. She was too busy releasing a fanciful statement tying the attack to an anti-Muslim video.

 

Then there are the adults in the Obama Administration. During congressional testimony today, Secret Service Director Julia Pierson took full responsibility for recent security failures at the White House. There have been six fence jumpers this year, the last two less than 10 days apart. One of them breached the interior of the White House and was finally tackled by an off duty official in the East Room.

 

Pierson took a verbal beating from Congress during her testimony. A lot of critics are now calling for her resignation. When the buck stops at the top, it can cost a bundle. The only upside was that none of the intruders were heard to yell, Allahu Akbar.

 

But, it shouldn’t be only the managers in the Administration who beckon the buck to stop with them. The point Harry Truman was making in 1945 is that the President is the leader of the Nation. That job requires a grown-up sense of responsibility not the infantile reaction of a politician.

 

If Clapper had been too slow to respond, Obama should have taken responsibility and then addressed the problem with his National Intelligence Director in private. Pass the baby rattle to Barack Obama.

 

Posted in Under the Bus

 

 

Seeds of Destruction

Obama’s War On ISIS: Death By A Thousand Buts

Blog From
September 13th, 2014

LFU_SeedsDestruction_Blasts_vFIn 2008, Senate neophyte and first time Presidential candidate Barack Obama had very definite ideas on how American foreign policy should be restructured. The unqualified Commander-in-Chief-wanna-be viewed our international presence as heavy handed and counterproductive. He promised to fix all of that first by undoing his predecessor’s military incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq. Beyond that, what he had in mind was anyone’s guess.

 

We don’t have to guess any more. For the past six years, the theories of the inexperienced candidate Obama have been the policies of President Obama. That’s shocking, really. Capable people who begin out of their depth usually grow in their jobs. But rather than being witness to a productive maturation process with Obama, we are observers of the opposite. Ideas grounded in ignorance have successfully resisted challenge despite repeated failures.

 

Last Wednesday, the President tried to make up for some of his recent fiascos with a speech on his new ISIS strategy. But speeches are difficult to read in general. Obama’s, in particular, are almost indecipherable. Without a doubt, his rhetoric sounds good to the listening ear. But, when the text is examined too much is left to the imagination and too much is simply wrong.

 

A forthright speech would have taken a clarifying form:

 

“I state as certainties things that sound good in the moment, but some of them are untruths, others are exaggerations and too many are unknowns. For example, I declare that Iraq now has an inclusive government, but it is impossible, at this early juncture, to know whether it truly is.

 

I claim that my actions in Yemen and Somalia are legitimate successes on which the new ISIS policy is based. But, in reality, my efforts in those two countries are, at best, pointless and, at worst, have strengthened Al Qaeda in the regions.

 

I state that American leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world, but I constantly turn my back on promises and people. I’m sure you all remember how I looked the other way when the Syrian government crossed my red line. Russia is slowly crushing the Ukraine to death, but I’ve declared victory and gone on to other distractions.

 

I ignored the ISIS threat for years as the Al Qaeda successor grew larger and more capable and became a greater terrorist force than its predecessor. But bin Laden is dead and I’ll remind you of that as often as I can since it makes me look strong.

 

I agree that ISIS is a terrorist group, but I have to insist that it isn’t even radical Islam. It has conquered an area about the size of Belgium. But I need to make ISIS seem smaller than it is so I deny that it a state.

 

In conclusion, I do admit that ISIS, left unchecked, is a threat to the American homeland. But, I insist that the lives of our citizens be placed in the hands of highly questionable local troops and unwilling partners. You may recall that I dismissed thousands of Syrian rebels as civilians unworthy of my aid, but now they will get it. Britain is our biggest ally, but it is uncertain about airstrikes over Syria. The Germans will say no to any airstrikes after this speech, but, I never actually asked them anyway.”

 

While the true meaning of rhetoric becomes apparent with time, on Wednesday it seemed more like Obama was simply buying time. He did not define victory or provide even the tiniest glimpse of what success may look like. He merely said “it will take time” to eradicate a cancer like ISIS and the effort will be “steady and relentless”.

 

The problem with dragging out these campaigns interminably is that people inevitably lose sight of their critical purpose. Weariness sets in. Eventually, politicians will declare victory where none exists and the effort will end having accomplished only delays.

 

Will failure be the outcome of this war, too? It certainly sounds like death by a thousand buts.

Posted in Seeds of Destruction

 

 

Pants on Fire

Obama’s ISIS Solution: Slap Designer Labels On Ugly And Call It A Winner

Blog From
September 11th, 2014

LFU_PantsonFire_AshPile_vFLast night, President Obama presented his ISIS strategy to the Nation in a prime time broadcast from the White House. Taking a page from John Molloy’s Dress for Success tome, Mr. Obama dressed up demonstrably failed polices in garb dripping in designer labels. He called the new look “success”. He is wrong and the Country deserves much better, beginning with the fabric of truth.

 

In order to assess Obama’s solution properly, we have to travel back in time to August 21, a few days after James Foley was gruesomely beheaded. Obama made the announcement and was on the links hitting his first drive a mere 8 minutes later. He reaped a whirlwind of criticism for callousness and his poll numbers on foreign policy began a steep decline.

 

On September 4, two days after Steven Sotloff was beheaded, Obama admitted to the Nation, “we don’t have a strategy yet”. He was referring to ISIS in Syria but the statement was generally recognized as a broader policy lapse. Those poll numbers sank lower and lower.

 

Last night, seven days after confessing to no strategy in Syria, the President announced his strategy for dealing with everything ISIS. He presented a four-prong approach. Most of it is warmed over tactics. None of it, separately or in combination, has worked as Obama claimed.

 

First, American airstrikes in Iraq will become offensive rather than defensive. In other words, ISIS will be attacked because it is ISIS rather than only to protect American advisors or innocent civilians. Airstrikes against ISIS will also commence in Syria.

 

Second, American advisors will be sent to support local ground troops in both countries. The Syrian opposition, dismissed by Obama in June as farmers and dentists unworthy of our support, will now get munitions and other equipment. Either they quickly became battle-hardened or Obama’s excuse for inaction was so much empty rhetoric conveniently forgotten.

 

The third and fourth prongs are continuations of standard counterterrorist tactics to prevent ISIS attacks and humanitarian aid to civilians. Of course, American troops will not be the ground and the prongs will be executed by bunches of our allies, too.

 

In one speech, Obama managed to pin four mislabels on his policy donkey in an effort to dress it up as something else. First, he claimed that America is safer under his leadership. Second, he claimed that American leadership is solely responsible for giving the Ukrainian People the right to determine their own destiny despite Russian aggression. What a huge whopper that last one is. The U.S. has little direct trade with Russia and correspondingly little leverage. The EU, on the other hand, can and has, albeit reluctantly, put the bite of economic pain on Russia for Putin’s belligerence.

 

Worst of all in context, the President last night identified Yemen and Somalia as shining examples of the successful use of his new ISIS policy. Those claims are so undeniably false that he had to be kidding.

 

In truth, Yemen is, by all other accounts, an example of failed U.S. policy. One expert from Princeton University summarized actions taken by the Obama administration there as policy adrift. The acknowledged danger to U.S. interests is Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). To combat it, Obama dramatically increased drone, missile and other airstrikes. This is, at best, a delaying tactic until the Yemeni military can act.

 

In the meantime, American air-borne attacks have strengthened AQAP’s hand in the region. While drones may have worked against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the dynamic in Yemen is dramatically different. The Obama administration has not adapted to the difference. AQAP forces have more than tripled in number since 2009 because of our assaults.

 

Even the New York Times assesses U.S. policy in Yemen as confused and ineffective. Embarrassingly, it appears that the U.S. is launching airstrikes based on Saudi and Yemeni intelligence agencies. We have no idea whether U.S. actions are being directed to protect Arab-only concerns.

 

Chasing Al Qaeda in Somalia is a bigger fiasco from the U.S. perspective than the debacle in Yemen. Branding it as a success is less honest, if that’s even possible.

 

The question is not why the U.S. policies and actions Obama identifies as successes are really failures. The question is why he persists in labeling them as successes. Dressed up malarkey is still malarkey.

Posted in Pants on Fire

 

 

In the Clown Car

Can They Rise To The Occasion?

Blog From
September 6th, 2014

Have you ever noticed how stellar the Founding Fathers were? You know, the guys who wrote the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and those who penned the Constitution in 1787. Familiar names like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Franklin and several dozen more.

 

Despite their outstanding accomplishments, the Fathers were not a homogeneous group. Their powdered wigs and buckled shoes overlaid a divisive passion. They had greatly divergent views of a proper political system and their heated disagreements elevated verbal savagery to an art form. They were, after all, committed revolutionaries with very strong opinions.

 

Still, notwithstanding spirited disputes, they produced two shining examples of governance, documents that have allowed us to grow both as a People and as individuals for well over two hundred years. As if to underscore what working together means, the Declaration was negotiated in a mere two days. The Constitution took a bit longer, but they got it done in less than four months.

 

Imagine the politicians of today pulling that off. We can’t, really, because it would never happen. Soaring partisan rancor in the past decade, but particularly in the most recent six years, shows no sign of faltering. By comparison to the current crop in our nation’s capital, the Originals belong in the pantheon of the gods.

 

Why were the Founding Fathers so much better at getting down to business than our leaders today? We have to hope that the important distinction is merely atmosphere, not attitude. Politicians now days allow special interests to defocus them from national concerns. Their party leaders successfully polarize them into extreme camps simply, it seems, for the sake of disagreement. Relationships across the aisle are so strained that the Senate dining room, once the site of conviviality among those holding differing views, is mostly empty.

 

Making partisanship even more ingrained is the national election trend in recent years. Moderates are disappearing from the political landscape because American voters are increasingly dissimilar in their political beliefs. As well, districting in the House has created “safe” zones dominated by one party or the other, guaranteeing polarization in Washington for the foreseeable future.

 

So partisanship is here to stay for quite a while. But, it was around in the 18th Century, too, and was set aside then as the need arose. The question today is whether our partisan leaders can occasionally rise to the occasion, overcome their differences and act for the good of the nation. Or will they be the ever-shrinking runts of politics ensconced in the pantheon of the ridiculous?

 

Does it matter? After all, we already have our founding documents. Yes, it matters. It matters if we really want to fix the deficit that threatens our way of life. It matters if we want a fair, lasting solution to the immigration mess flooding our southern border. It matters if we want to handle the ISIS crisis, and foreign relations in general, effectively.

 

Right now, our best hope is that the silver lining of bipartisanship around the ISIS threat has an enduring glow. At least when it counts.

 

Another mystery surrounding the Founding Fathers is why their very large committees were so successful in meeting critical objectives. Anything by committee these days is viewed as pretty much of a joke. If it’s a Congressional committee, it’s hilarious.

 

But, that’s a topic for another blog.

Posted in In the Clown Car

 

 

Over the Top

Obama’s Indecisiveness: Not The Transparency We Can Believe In

Blog From
September 1st, 2014

LFU_OverTop_BrokenBody_vFYesterday, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, stated that President Obama may be “too cautious”. She was referring to his inability to make a decision about how to handle ISIS in Syria. She was also being polite to the leader of her political party. Obama isn’t too cautious. He’s paralyzed. He’s also way too open about his paralytic condition.

 

Early in Obama’s first term, one of his most-often repeated promises was transparency in government. He’s gotten failing marks for breaking that promise almost from the outset. Turns out, the failing marks were undeserved. We just didn’t understand the type of transparency Obama had in mind.

 

The President wasn’t referring to transparent government operations. He wasn’t describing open government deliberations or accountable decision-making processes. The C-SPAN assurances weren’t about any of that. The five-day public review before bills are signed had to do with something else entirely.

 

To this President, transparency has to do with making sure his inability to be decisive is visible to everyone in the world. And he has kept that promise with a vengeance. If you watch T.V. or listen to any type of broadcast or simply read a newspaper, his indecisiveness is on full display. It’s not just a matter of being way behind the decisiveness curve. The man simply talks too much.

 

The reason for the President’s unending monologue about his indecisiveness isn’t clear. His admission last week that he has no strategy for dealing with ISIS in Syria was apparently meant to be a show-stopper. Earlier, both his Secretary of Defense and his Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair had announced that ISIS must be halted. That probably sounded too decisive and too military. So, Obama made it clear that his thinking is still muddled. The sigh of relief heard around the world after his pronouncement wasn’t from our side of the pond, where criticism was immediate and fierce. It was from those who should be the target of U.S. military action.

 

There was also no sigh of relief from our international partners. Dithering by someone who stands in the shoes of former world leaders hardly inspires confidence or even respect. Obama is headed this week to a NATO Summit. Maybe he can get a little backbone from those people because it isn’t happening for him with his advisors here.

 

The White House exposure two weeks ago of a failed operation to rescue James Foley also seemed to have an anti-military motivation. It was as if to say, see military solutions don’t work. That one didn’t work because the intelligence on Foley’s location was bad, meaning it was either never right or it was outdated. Of course, ISIS knows which it was. It also has some idea, if the raid were merely too late, of our intelligence sources. Loose lips sink ships, but revelations from the world stage blow holes in entire fleets.

 

Obama’s public exhibition of ambivalence could also be due his belief that his every thought is so important it should be shared with everyone. He’s wrong, of course, but how do you convince him of that fact? Maybe the best way is through one simple plea. Please, Mr. President, just stop talking.

Posted in Over the Top

 

 

Fast and Curious

ISIS: Obama’s Color–Blind Problem

Blog From
August 23rd, 2014

LFU_FastCurious_Crash_vFDid you ever notice how the color red comes up a lot in politics? It’s mostly a negative, like red tape, red herring, red ink, caught red-handed and, of course, red line. Speaking of line color, this week marks the second anniversary of President Obama’s infamous, and unfulfilled, threat against the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

 

A lot of red flowed from the wrong people reading nothing but bluff into Obama’s words. The following year, on August 21, 2013, the Syrian government launched an attack on Damascus suburbs killing 1,500 inhabitants with the nerve agent, sarin.

 

For the U.S., one of the worst long-term outcomes of the attack unfolded over the following three weeks. During that period, the President engaged in repeated public displays of angst about the action he should take. He bared his soul on the international stage leaving no doubt in the end of his inability to protect American security interests. His breast-beating and ultimate abdication opened the door to a type of aggression that has not been experienced in a very long time.

 

On August 28, Obama confirmed in a PBS interview that the Syrian government, not the opposition, had used the chemical weapons. He agreed that there had to be consequences but he had not decided whether U.S. military strikes would be forthcoming. Meanwhile, U.N. envoys were claiming that Syria was the biggest threat facing the international community.

 

Two days after that, on August 30, a self-described “war weary” Obama repeated the need for a firm response. He was still undecided whether it should be military in nature, although he realized inaction was a “danger to our national security”. He also fretted publicly about sending the “wrong signal” if the international community did not respond in an appropriately decisive manner.

 

On September 14, 2013, Obama chose the “danger to our national security” door and sent the wrong signal. On that day, the U.S. and Russia put the finishing touches on a deal to rid Syria of its chemical weapons by mid-2014. The agreement concluded the American response to the sarin gas massacre.

 

By the end of June 2014, all chemical weapons stockpiles that Syria “declared” were removed from the country. But, there was no verification by independent examiners that all stockpiles were in fact gone. Everyone simply took the Syrian government’s word for it. Not surprisingly, the Syrians had hailed the Russia-U.S. agreement a year earlier as a victory for its side.

 

The agreement was also the end of any U.S. endeavor in or with regard to Syria other than ad nauseam talking. Despite requests to arm the opposition, Obama was absorbed in other international matters like his string of loses to Putin in Crimea and Ukraine.

 

Withholding military aid to the opposition created a vacuum that permitted ISIS to rise in Syria and extend into Iraq. Noting that fact earlier this month, Hillary Clinton observed that “don’t do stupid stuff” is not an organizing principle of great nations. Or the near great or even the not so great. Where does that put the U.S.?

 

Even Obama should be red-faced about a failure acknowledged both by a former Administration star and his current Secretary of Defense. Yesterday, Chuck Hagel labeled ISIS, with its apocalyptic vision and billions in funds, the most dangerous threat to the U.S. in years. But, Obama isn’t red-faced, possibly because he is now preoccupied with baring his soul again, this time over ISIS in Iraq.

 

The President talks too much, wrings his hands too much and makes one thing too clear. The shortest distance between now and an international disaster is through his White House. That’s no reason to paint the town red.

Posted in Fast and Curious