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In the Clown Car
In the Clown Car

What Is Going On?

Blog From
February 27th, 2019

President Trump walked away from denuclearization talks with North Korea in Hanoi last night. Demands made by Noko’s war-loving, crazy dictator were unrealistic. As the President said, no deal is better than a bad one.

Meanwhile, Pakistan and India are at it again over the India-controlled section of Kashmir.

This week, they both claimed to have shot down military planes belonging to the other side. Both are threatening escalation, which is no laughing matter. They each have a nuclear arsenal including about 100 warheads and each has test fired nuclear-capable missiles.

Pakistan is now doing some nuclear saber-rattling to ward off a superior conventional attack by India.

The prospect of international nuclear war may not be as threatening to this Country as hearings going on in Congress this week. The Michael Cohen’s Spectacle of Self-Serving Slander is a prelude to impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

But last year, Cohen pled guilty to lying to Congress, among a host of other felonies. On Tuesday, he was disbarred from the practice of law. En route to serving a three-year prison sentence, he stopped by the Hill to chat up Congress again.

For our representatives to seek the unsubstantiated testimony of a felonious liar who has duped them in the past is an act of desperation. It is looking like the Mueller investigation will end with a whimper rather than a bang. So, Dems are casting about trying to find another source to feed the Trash Trump Frenzy. In Cohen, they caught a big, fat bottom feeder.

Yummy.

Posted in In the Clown Car

 

 

In the Clown Car

What Of Flynn’s Sin?

Blog From
December 4th, 2017

Last week, Lt. General Michael T. Flynn stepped into a Federal courtroom and pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. The lie was denying lawful contacts with the Russian Ambassador in the month following President Trump’s election.

Most media outlets exuberantly characterized Flynn’s guilty plea as the beginning of the end for the Trump Presidency since Flynn is now ‘cooperating’ with Mueller’s team. ABC’s Brian Ross, who was more than merely euphoric, is now on suspension from his network for claiming the Flynn-Russian contacts were pre-election.

But, what does Flynn’s plea really mean for the President? The answer is the value the plea has to Mueller. For the Special Prosecutor, what is the advantage of nailing Flynn as a liar over conduct that has nothing to do with the investigation?

It seems to be a head-scratcher. After all, a prosecutor who utterly destroys the credibility of his witness has given a great gift to defense attorneys. Convicting the witness of lying is a huge credibility killer.

Then there’s the pressure Mueller put on Flynn to protect his son from Federal prosecution. Mueller announced late last month that Flynn’s offspring, Michael G., was a ‘subject’ of the investigation.  Even if he were not a convicted liar, saving his son from the heavy hand of the Special Prosecutor in the plea deal pretty much destroyed Flynn’s credibility.

Obviously, Mueller was desperate to put a conviction in the win column. But, having a liar in his stable, who was also motivated to save his son, seems less than nothing.

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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?

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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

 

 

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

 

 

In the Clown Car

The Weak In Review

Blog From
August 3rd, 2014

Clown_Comic_Insert_v3Almost every week, we are reminded of a terrible weakness in our current national leadership. The occupants of the House, the Senate and the Oval Office are small-minded, tireless self-promoters who polarize their respective bases to maintain power. They have no business being anywhere near Washington D.C. Here’s a glimpse of what happened this week.

 

The True Meaning of Bipartisanship

 

Nancy Pelosi did more than reach across the aisle this week. She walked across it to challenge Representative Tom Marino, R-Pa, whom she denounced as an insignificant person.

 

Marino had just remarked for the record that Democrats are only interested in immigration as a vehicle to rack up political mileage. Otherwise, they would have passed a reform bill of their choosing in 2009 or 2010 when they were an unstoppable force.

 

It’s difficult to argue successfully against Marino’s logic. After the confrontation, a Pelosi spokesperson tried to dull his point by claiming that Democrats stand for bipartisanship.

 

What a novel definition that is. The Dems wanted to avoid partisanship so they waited until after the 2010 elections when the GOP retook control of the House. How swell of them to hold off until they had the other side to compromise with, except there’s been no such attempt since then.

 

Pelosi’s foray onto the Republican half of the room was a major protocol goof, as the former Speaker surely knew. Maybe the diminutive, 74-year-old House veteran believes she can physically intimidate junior members of the opposition.

 

Even so, she needs to do it on neutral ground.

 

Plumbing The Depths of Foreign Relations

 

Our weakness on the world stage leads to all kinds of bizarre episodes. This week, Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Rogozin, tweeted a Photoshopped image with the caption, “We have different values and allies.” The image showed President Putin holding a leopard cub next to a photo of President Obama with a small, fluffy dog in his arms.

 

The tweet answers the age-old twin questions of how far foreign relations can sink and how juvenile they can get on the way down.

 

Although, come to think of it, the Hillary Clinton “reset button” fiasco wasn’t the height of international intercourse, either. But, it was merely cheesy. And very embarrassing.

 

For his part, Putin has a penchant for contrived photo ops that feature him in macho athletic poses, too often shirtless. At least in Rogozin’s tweet, which has been retweeted more than one thousand times, the Russian President is fully clothed.

 

One Good Turn

 

The Senate has been investigating CIA interrogation techniques during the Bush administration. In turn, the CIA has been snooping through the computer files of Senators involved in the investigation.

 

The Agency’s inspector general reported that five employees were involved in the search, three of whom had shown a “lack of candor” when interviewed. Sometimes, it would be nice if official reports actually called big, fat lies big, fat lies.

 

The CIA Director at first denied the hacking claim and then apologized when it came to light this week. Senators were livid. No ox is gored quite as badly as your own. The outrage included claims of separation of powers violations.

 

These claims are wrong, of course. The snooping is a criminal violation, not a powers violation. It would have been just as wrong if committed by a Senate staffer.

 

The criminality notwithstanding, there is something vaguely satisfying about someone, anyone, handing it to the Senate.

Posted in In the Clown Car

 

 

In the Clown Car

Executive Disorder

Blog From
June 29th, 2014

Clown_Comic_Insert_v3The Constitution’s Recess Clause allows presidents to make executive appointments when the Senate is in recess. In 2012, Obama declared the Senate to be in recess when it was actually in session and proceeded to appoint three individuals to the NLRB. In National Labor Relations Board v. Canning, handed down on Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously invalidated the appointments.

 

Canning calls into question two years of NLRB rulings because a majority of the Board was unlawfully appointed. But the most far-reaching impact of the decision is its invalidation of presidential appointments.

 

This is the first time in U.S. history that the Court has heard a case on the Recess Clause. But, not because recess appointments have never been challenged. Over the years, federal appellate courts have struck them down on occasion. The affected presidents chose to avoid the risk of adverse Supreme Court rulings by forgoing high court review.

 

In Canning, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the NLRB appointments. The Obama administration, ignoring the path taken by the President’s predecessors, appealed to the Supreme Court. The risk of a negative outcome that would hamper his last years in office is now reality.

 

The Supreme Court decision portends another problem for the President. He issues executive orders without even trying to work with Congress. He simply declares that any such attempts would be a waste of time because of Republican opposition to his agenda. He does not pass negotiation. He goes directly to his “pen and phone” option.

 

This tact is similar to his declaration that the Senate was not in session as a pretext for making his NLRB appointments. Not only was the Senate in session, the Supreme Court stated that it is the Senate, not the President, which makes that determination.

 

Despite the President’s refusal to even talk with opposition leaders, his supporters claim that, using a numbers metric, his actions are proper.  For example, he makes judicious use of his executive order powers simply because he has issued many fewer than most Presidents in American history.

 

The numbers game has become the President’s third favorite pastime. The first is golf. The second is still blame, although that one is wearing thin. So, enter the numbers game. The rules are very simple (1) substitute numbers for substantive assessments and (2) score small numbers in Obama’s favor, large numbers against his opponents.

 

Under the game rules, the President’s executive orders, being relatively few in number, work in his favor. Never mind the fact that they substantially modify, if not repeal, laws passed by Congress. Keep your eye on the small number.

 

Likewise, there is nothing to Benghazi since several congressional committees have taken part in the investigation and have turned up nothing. Never mind the fact that the fundamental questions remain unanswered.

 

Why did we still have a presence in Benghazi when everyone else, including the Red Cross, was long gone? Why were rescuers not sent during the attack especially since the White House could not know how long the assault would last? Who came up with the phony “it’s the video, stupid” diversion?

 

Just skip the fact that the IRS claims a disk crash irretrievably wiped out Lerner’s emails during the critical period. Focus on her 67,000 messages provided to investigators. Be overwhelmed by what was surrendered and ignore what was withheld.

 

Obama has tried to make Washington a one-man show. It’s his way or no way at all. He must have skipped the separation of powers lecture in law school because, for a constitutional scholar, he’s all about executive disorder.

Posted in In the Clown Car

 

 

In the Clown Car

Barack Obama: The Wind-Up President

Blog From
May 24th, 2014

Clown_Comic_Insert_v3It seems that Barack Obama is just a wind-up toy kept in a cellophane box somewhere in the White House. Every once in a while, they take him out, wind up the key in his back good and tight and let him give speeches. At least, that’s the impression he gives because, for a commander-in-chief, he makes a great talker. Except he doesn’t always do a very good job of even that.

 

The most recent demonstration of the wind-up President is the revelation this week that he learned of the current VA scandal watching TV. This announcement came from Obama’s Press Secretary, Jay Carney, who thinks learning about scandals from news reports is perfectly acceptable for the White House inhabitant. Absolutely, if we’re talking about live-in help, but not for the nation’s leader.

 

One thing is for sure. The wind-up President has transparent cellophane on his box that lets him see all the way to a TV. (Which is turning out to be the fulfillment of his 2009 transparency promise.) In fact, television has been Obama’s briefer-in-chief for other issues as well including Fast and Furious and the current IRS scandal.

 

One of the President’s supporters claims that Obama’s TV ‘briefings’ are o.k. because George Bush first learned of the 911 attacks on TV. Of course, that’s not true. George was in Florida at a speaking engagement and was whisked away by the secret service when it learned of the attacks.

 

But, even if true, learning about a terrorist attack by watching it in real time is hardly comparable to ignorance of well-known and long-standing problems. His Secretaries and staff must be under orders to keep problems from Obama. There’s just not enough tension in that wind-up brain to process them.

 

The persistent neglect of veterans has continued for six years after Obama’s transition team received a briefing about it from the VA. Obama must have been too busy ignoring the disastrous rollout of the healthcare.gov website to notice. Or to make sure that the billions of new dollars he poured into the VA were spent effectively on veterans’ health care issues.

 

More federal money, without competent management or Presidential follow-through, has done nothing to solve the current problem. Lucky for Obama, not even this scandal can dim his Democrat leadership support. This week, Nancy Pelosi blamed the whole thing on George W. Bush.

 

Possibly worse, although there isn’t really a scale for these types of things, is that VA Secretary Eric Shinseki also learned of the scandal watching TV. At least according to the White House. However, a memo sent in 2010 to all Veterans Affairs Department health directors warned them against using the waiting-list scheme to improve performance scores.

 

The VA Undersecretary for Health resigned last week after admitting to Congress that he was aware of the memo. Yet, when questioned at the same time, Shinseki stated that he had not seen it. One wonders if “not seen” actually equates to “no knowledge of” or whether its just vague bureaucrat-speak to duck responsibility.

 

Shinseki supporters, who believe he should not be fired, point to his Army record and the injuries he suffered fighting for his country. That he has an outstanding record as a soldier is admirable. He should get medals and the life-long respect and gratitude of the nation. But, prior service, no matter how exemplary, does not make him a competent administrator.

 

Shinseki has been Obama’s only VA Secretary. These specific problems have been known since before Obama’s Presidency. Shinseki had to know about them, too. But, in over five years, he has not even attempted to address the problems. Otherwise, his claim of recent knowledge from television would not have been made.

 

Shinseki backers also blame the off-the-books waiting lists on the difficult problem of firing people who get a federal paycheck. Like many blame stories, this one sounds good but it doesn’t fit the facts. First, Shinseki claims he wasn’t aware of the problem. Second, he’s not interested in personnel-based solutions.

 

In a 390-33 vote, the House passed a bill on Wednesday that would make it easier to fire VA senior executives for poor performance. The bill has been pending since at least the first week of April. On Thursday, Senate Dems signaled support for the bill when it reaches their chamber. But, Shinseki said the latitude created by the House measure wasn’t necessary.

 

So, apparently, Shinseki has all the tools he needs to fix the problem. He just doesn’t get the job done. The waiting-list tragedy has blossomed under his watch while he just watches. That the man is still the VA Secretary speaks to the President’s incompetent management. Or the fear that, in firing Shinseki, the blame for the problem that the Secretary let fester and grow will touch the President. Surprise, it already has.

 

Obama addressed the VA scandal this week in one of his out-of-the-box speeches saying, “I will not tolerate it, period.” Uh, oh. We all know how badly the President’s period pieces end. He received four well-deserved, Washington Post Pinocchios for his lies about you-can-keep-your-plan-period and your-doctor-period. Someone needs to reach inside the box and delete the ‘period’ word from his speech options.

 

The more that comes out about this and other long-term problems, the more it seems that Obama’s five years in office have been just pretend. Which is what you’d expect from a guy in a cellophane box.

Posted in In the Clown Car

 

 

In the Clown Car

The Weak In Review

Blog From
April 19th, 2014

Clown_Comic_Insert_v3This week’s blog is not limited to a single topic. There were just too many screwy things going on in the past seven days to focus on any one of them. Instead, this article addresses the bad performances, unfortunate decisions and worse non-decisions as it presents the Weak In Review.

 

The Keystone Pipeline

 

The Administration delayed taking action on the Keystone Pipeline indefinitely. Bowing to “progressive” pressure, Obama put 42,000 jobs and energy independence on the backburner. Mary Landrieu, D-La, in the midst of a knock-down-drag-out fight for her political life, decried the failure to move on the project.

 

The decision to be indecisive was made as the President experiences the drag energy dependence has on our European friends in imposing Russian sanctions. Evidently, he doesn’t learn by example. Or, he doesn’t believe that the U.S. will become energy dependent. Ot he does believe that energy dependence promotes global coziness. Or…

 

The Ukraine

 

Speaking of Russia, Obama had a phone chat with Putin this week. He lectured the Russian leader on the need to withdraw his Country’s troops from the Ukraine Border. Putin insisted that the U.S. ensure that force is not used in the volatile area.

 

So far, Putin is winning. Washington won’t send so much as night-vision goggles or body armor to the Ukraine. It might seem provocative.

 

Meanwhile, the parties reached a tentative agreement in Geneva that not even Obama believes will work. It includes terms like avoid violence and stop all the illegal stuff. No consequences were specified. It does not mention the presence of Russian troops. Believing it won’t work is optimistic because there is nothing in it to work.

 

Minimize Tax Day

 

The White House announced that the Obamas netted less money this year than last. The lesser income stems from a boost in tax rates and falling book sales. Some characterized it as Obama getting a taste of his own progressive medicine.

 

However, focusing on Obama’s higher tax bracket misses the point. The President underpaid the tax percentage for his bracket by almost 50%. For someone who claims to believe that people should pay their fair share, Obama pays as little as he can.

 

The Avoidable Care Act

 

The President held an impromptu press conference earlier this week. He lauded his signature legislation yet again, saying, “This thing is working”. That is certainly a convincing statement. And he, yet again,  taunted Republicans. He likened their refusal to support the Avoidable Care Act to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief.

 

Kubler-Ross, a Swiss psychiatrist, claimed that humans, when faced with impending death, go through five stages of grief beginning with denial and ending with acceptance. In between are anger, bargaining and depression. According to Obama, the Republicans are still in the anger stage on their way to eventual Obamacare acceptance.

 

The President should have read the next page in the Kubler-Ross five stages of grief saga. It turns out, the theory gave her a lot of it as it’s been thoroughly debunked. That does not portend well for the ACA Con.

 

Truth Issues

 

Speaking of Obamacare, most of those queried in a poll released this week believe the President lies to the American people on major issues.

 

All of those Affordable Care Act fibs, made repeatedly over a period of years, have taken their toll on the President’s credibility. The most surprising thing about all of this is not the lies. He is a politician, after all. The surprising thing is that people paid enough attention to the statements he made in the first place to recognize that they were lies. Being a great orator has a downside after all.

 

The Smoking Gun

 

Republicans believe they’ve found the smoking gun in the seemingly interminable IRS investigation. A string of email messages appear to state that the IRS’s obstruction of conservative non-profits was motivated by the 2014 election cycle.

 

The latest revelation, whether smoking or not, does warrant further investigation. It also undermines the President’s claim made earlier this year that the IRS behavior included not even a “smidgen of corruption”. Obama preferred to attribute the conduct of IRS employees to bone-headedness and confusion. We’d be fine if only we had federal workers with thinner skulls that accommodate normal-size brains.

 

Toughest Interview

 

Jay Carney called Obama’s toughest interview of 2012 his foreplay with Jon Stewart on the latter’s Daily Show, a late night comedy staple. That’s probably because most of the President’s interviews have been on comedy shows, during contrived commercials or with softball lobbing journalists. Who can forget CNN’s Candy Crowley’s performance during the second town-hall debate between Romney and Obama in 2012?

 

Meanwhile, Carney continues to vilify Fox News and its “ridiculous stories”. Unlike his skull, his skin must be very thin. Worse for us is the Administration’s mistaken belief that insulting news organizations is acceptable press secretary protocol.

 

The Bundy Debacle

 

Harry Reid couldn’t resist mixing it up in the Cliven Bundy cattle grazing skirmish taking place in the Senate Majority Leader’s home State. Reid called Bundy supporters “domestic terrorists” who endanger their community. Bundy may be taking an extreme position but Reid has made way too many trips over the top himself.

 

Harry’s son, Rory, also got into the act on his daddy’s side. People can understand a son supporting his father, but can’t figure out why the younger Reid bothered in this case. Maybe it does have to do with the alleged grab of Bundy land to increase Rory’s bottom line. We’ll have to stay tuned for that one.

 

Such was the weak that was.

Posted in In the Clown Car

 

 

In the Clown Car

Obamacare: Can Putting Lipstick on the Pig Save It? Maybe

Blog From
March 30th, 2014

Clown_Comic_Insert_v3We’ve come to expect unusual political gymnastics from our congressional representatives in election years. We understand that politicians talk and act in strange ways during these times, driven exclusively by self-preservation, i.e., getting re-elected. This behavior is necessitated by their unacceptable representation of voters during off years. Come election time, they scurry around trying to put lipstick on the political pigs they’ve bred in the congressional barn.

 

This year is no different. In fact, 2014 is even more so because the elections this fall are the first following the effective date of Obamacare. Today, that particular piece of legislation is the ugliest hog in the barn. Regardless of the law’s intent, the reality has been canceled policies, increased premiums and deductibles and loss of coverage, doctors and accessibility to treatment centers.

 

To make matters worse, President Obama has single-handedly made more than twenty changes to the law to temporarily soften or delay its impact. These are nothing more than politically motivated attempts to shelter Democrats from a further onslaught of adverse consequences in this election year. As far as fooling anyone goes, the President could have skipped his Obamacare marketing appearances on comedy shows. His pen-and-phone change routines are much funnier, in a very sick sort of way.

 

Not surprisingly, the public’s response to the President’s signature legislation is overwhelmingly negative. Supporters who are not standing for re-election respond that it’s too early to predict the long-term impact of the law. There may be tons of wreckage right now, but short-term pain, especially when its suffered by someone else, is worth long-term gain.

 

Those facing the electorate firing squad can’t be as forthright in their public statements. Five Democrat senators and one Independent proposed changes to Obamacare just last week. Motivated by a deep desire to stem the mounting disaffection, the six sought to take advantage of polls suggesting that voters want the law fixed rather than rescinded.

 

The six had no choice but to offer modifications. They can’t gush support of the law like Nancy Pelosi. They don’t share the surrealistically favorable voter demographics in her district. They can’t distance themselves from the law through harsh criticisms such as those taken by their Republican colleagues, either. That would make them even easier targets of their campaign opponents.

 

So, while voicing their strong support for Obamacare, they speak of the law as “not perfect”. The leader of the six and the most vulnerable in November is Mary Landrieu (D-La). She claims the proposed changes are based on a “few recommendations” from her constituents to make the law “work better”.

 

She has to be kidding. Fixing thousands of pages of pervasive problems through a few suggestions of a few voters is silly. It’s the worst kind of pandering to naive people who hold the keys of victory in their ballots. Not surprisingly, the fixes are superficial, ignoring the fundamental problems of the portion of the law that Obama allowed to go into effect. They are also silent on the huge negatives of the delayed provisions.

 

One of Landrieu’s proposals is to create yet another category of Obamacare policy, this one with lower premiums and much higher deductibles. Another is to allow individuals to sign up directly with insurance companies, bypassing the problem-plagued Obamacare website.

 

But, these recommendations simply apply lipstick on the pig. They are intended to distract long enough from what may be intractable problems to get Landrieu and others re-elected. This just another form of the let’s wait and see what happens strategy. Elects us now and we’ll see what happens later.

 

There’s a lot of discussion in the news about whether the autocratic Harry Reid will allow the proposals to come before the Senate. Viewing it as a crack in the dam that could open the flood gates, he may simply refuse to allow a vote. That’s TBD.

 

Those who claim that voters want the law fixed, not repealed, are silent about its substantive problems. Frank discussions of issues beg to have solutions offered. But, because the problems with the law are systemic, the solutions amount to effective repeal, something that supporters will not admit.

 

There’s something else that enthusiasts don’t discuss. The reason why Americans want the legislation fixed. They support the goal not the implementation. They see the fairness in providing healthcare to everyone. They reject the notion that Obamacare constructs are the only way to get there.

 

Can the healthcare law be fixed? If fix means replace with a scheme that provides universal coverage but skips wrecking havoc on every other part of the healthcare system, then yes. Republicans have offered several alternatives to Obamacare that meet this objective.

 

But, Republicans are the absolute worst in the history of the species at getting their message across. That Obamacare has survived its muck and mire is, in part, a testament to the ineptitude of the GOP.

 

If Republicans were smart, which is difficult to tell, they would come up with a single plan that they label a fix to Obamacare. Not piecemeal attempts at change, not the next new thing and not dumping what we’ve got. Just adjustments that replace the substance while preserving the goal.

 

This is the kind of lipstick that may very well permit the necessary substantive changes. But, will we ever see that color come out of the tube?

Posted in In the Clown Car