In The Headlights

Saturday, October 20, 2018
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EDITOR RILEY

Riley composes the Silly Sentinel editorials from the perspective of a dog who finds human behavior more than a little nonsensical. Being completely dependent on the support of others, he should advocate more of an accommodating view, but he doesn’t. His focus is on the silly things members of his benefactor species do and the farcical explanations they conjure to justify their actions. He will never run short of material.

Riley

Groundhog Day In U.S. Politics

DATELINE: Boringville, January 13 – Through one source or another, we all know about Groundhog Day. If you haven’t been introduced to Punxsutawney Phil, you’ve seen the 1993 Bill Murray movie. They’re both about repeating the same experience ad nauseam. In Phil’s case, it’s the dreary winter day repetition. With the movie, it is reliving the same 24 hours seemingly forever.

 

Like these repetitious experiences, the same day in U.S. politics is happening over and over again. The day that was is also the day that is and the day that will be again. The same political battle lines are drawn, the same taunting rhetoric is uttered and the same lack of progress is reported nightly on the news.

 

Every day it’s Obama versus the Republicans, executive orders versus legislation, vetoes versus bill signings, platitudes versus practicalities. The issues remain the same: global climate change, income redistribution, immigration reform and, what people are actually interested in, terrorism. Lovers of the old saying, no news is good news, never lived through the same old interminable day.

 

The American government is designed to operate on compromise in order to avoid the dangers of extremes. It has a two-party system, a bicameral legislature that must function internally – both within each chamber and between them – and a President that must work with the legislature. If there is no willingness to compromise, the business of the Country stops.

 

We’ve seen so little compromise since 2009 that we’ve forgotten what it looks like.

 

Will the political Groundhog Day end? Will issues be resolved, accomplishments achieved, and new challenges addressed? In the movie, Murray’s character was stuck in the same 24 hours because he was a narcissistic jerk stuck in the same self-centered rut. He finally moved on to a new day but only after he matured into an outwardly directed human being.

 

Like the Groundhog Day protagonist, President Obama is stuck in a self-centered rut. His rigid insistence on strict adherence to an extreme agenda guarantees that the same political day recurs incessantly. Oh sure, Congressional Republicans are plenty flawed themselves. But, they recognize the necessity of working with Dems and are doing it today.

 

Until that light dawns on the President as well, this day will never end.

 

 

Riley

Pelosi: Out With The Old

DATELINE: OldPeopleLieTooville, November 15 – Nancy Pelosi has had a very tough couple of days. First came the Jonathan Gruber revelation that Obamacare was sold to the American voters on a combination of politicians’ lies and gross voter stupidity. Then came the post-election suggestion from members of the media that Democrats might be better off with a change in House leadership. Pelosi responded to both in her own fashion of stilted gestures and garbled messages.

 

Shifting through the debris of her presentation style, the elder stateswoman appears to have plunged to new depths of deceit and pettiness. Regarding Jonathan Gruber, all sources but the former Speaker acknowledge that he was a prominent Obamacare architect.

 

The MIT economist visited the White House at least 8 times during the drafting period. He was paid over one million dollars for his efforts. His expertise in also architecting RomneyCare was used by Democrats in the 2012 presidential election to discredit the Republican candidate.

 

Pelosi herself acknowledged Gruber’s Obamacare involvement in a 2009 speech and in various press releases at the time. Yet, on Thursday, she stated, “I don’t know who he is. He didn’t help write our bill.”

 

Pelosi’s denial of Gruber came after videos were aired of three occasions when the economist made disparaging remarks about voters, politicians and the adoption process. He referred to the American voter as stupid, the premiums as disguised taxes and the process as deliberately vague. According to Gruber, but for the deception and voter stupidity, Obamacare would not have become law.

 

Come to think of it, Gruber’s comments are strangely similar to Pelosi’s “we’ll have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it” remark. No wonder she wants to distance herself from him.

 

Pelosi’s office now claims that her statement, “I don’t know who he is”, merely meant that she did not know Gruber personally. That’s a laugh. Pelosi’s denial is much broader than that. She must be losing her old mind.

 

The day after denying Gruber, Pelosi threw a hissy fit at the suggestion that Democrats might benefit from new congressional leadership. She accused the media, and Time Magazine in particular, of being sexist. Her point apparently was that Mitch McConnell was not similarly treated in past years and both he and John Boehner have been on the cover of Time. According to Pelosi, that honor should have been bestowed on her as well since she was the first female Speaker in American history.

 

She may have missed Time, but, for a price, she can get her photo on the business side of a Wheaties box. If she also wants it on a matching coffee mug and key chain, it will cost her more.

 

Or maybe she’s finally just run out of Time.

 

 

Riley

Still Crazy After All These Elections

DATELINE: Asylumville, November 6 – President Obama held a press conference the day after the election to discuss the results. Like most sane people, he first congratulated the winners. He then recognized that voters want their elected officials in D.C. to work together to render rational solutions. So far, so good.

 

Then things started to slip into auditory hallucinations land. Stating that his position in the leadership pyramid is unique, which it is, he claimed to hear the voices of Americans who did not vote. And, he was happy to report that they all support him. A decision not to vote was a vote cast for the status quo. And, since Obama is numero uno in that category, remaining silent was a shout-out for him.

 

Wow, is this delusional or what? Hold that thought for a minute.

 

The Republicans are presently occupying another wing of the asylum. On Wednesday, Reince Priebus, the out-going Chair of the National Republican Committee, stated that the election signaled a conservative waive washing over the Country.

 

That’s idiotic. The only waive in this election is bipartisanship. Voters want workable, interparty solutions for the significant problems facing us. Bipartisan means sensible centrist answers. It has been a consistent desire of voters for years. Obama claimed to understand that back in 2008. Despite making bipartisanship a key pledge in his first run for the White House, we’ve had none of it during his tenure in the Oval Office.

 

What we’re been handed, instead, is a series of impressive, partisan failures. A recovering economy that has bypassed most of us. A hugely unpopular healthcare law that adds layers of complexity and cost and subtracts availability and quality. A dangerously confused and counterproductive approach to foreign affairs. And more domestic scandals than there are shaking sticks.

 

At this point, the only chance of getting cooperative national management is through voter-mandated negotiations between a Republican Congress and a Democrat White House. Bipartisanship is the takeaway from this week’s election. Woe be to the party that leaves it behind.

 

So, what are those voices in Obama’s head actually saying? Midterm turnouts are typically low. Non-presidential elections are missing the dramatic appeal. But pollsters and other analysts usually come up with specific reasons for each election.

 

With this one, most observers agree that Obama is the beginning and the end of the inquiry into the dramatic defeat of his party. The Republicans kept him front and center and the Democrats were pinned in the bullseye with him. The Gallup poll people credited the lack of a popular figurehead in either party for the low turnout. This is another way to lay blame at Obama’s feet since he was the only national figurehead connected to the election.

 

Like 2010, Obama’s unkept promises left his traditional base sitting comfortably in their living rooms. In that midterm, the Dems lost an historic 50 seats to Republicans. In a brief moment of lucidity, Obama characterized it correctly as a shellacking, but his performance since then has descended straight into spasmodic incompetence.

 

The shellacking four years ago became a tsunami of rejection this week. Chickens eventually come home to roost. Eventually for Obama was Tuesday.

 

 

Riley

OBAMA’S NAME-CALLING STRATEGY

DATELINEBarnyardville, October 30 – The Jeffrey Goldberg interview with two unnamed senior Obama administration officials published in The Atlantic two days ago is causing quite a stir. “The Crisis in U.S.–Israel Relations Is Officially Here” is a far-ranging exploration of the current issues and tensions between the two allies. The stirring part is the revelation that the White House views Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, as an uncooperative, cowardly, politically motivated chickenshit.

The reaction to the article has been predictably negative. Just as predictably, the White House refuses to apologize or identify the senior officials who trashed Netanyahu. It is impossible to believe that such a tirade against our only ally in the Mid East was not cleared with the President first. It is almost impossible to decipher the advantage that Obama hoped to gain from the juvenile rant.

Almost. The face-to-face meetings between Netanyahu and Obama are notoriously unproductive. The Israeli leader rejects the concessions our President urges upon Israel. After Tuesday, their talks, if any occur, will be even less fruitful. In fact, the article may signal an end to a long-standing relationship, at least for the next two years. That has to be obvious to all.

Equally obvious is that fact that Obama uses Goldberg to publically disparage and humiliate the Israeli. Talk about chickenshit. Come to think of it, giving such a mud-slinging interview while insisting on anonymity is totally chickenshit, too.

Beneath Obama’s contemptible choice of message delivery to Netanyahu lies another twisted vein running through the article. The senior chickenshits repeatedly criticized Israel’s Prime Minister for allegedly basing all of his decisions on political considerations.

As Goldberg understood their criticisms, Netanyahu has a near-pathological desire for career preservation through pandering to his base. One of them stated,

“The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat.”

That’s real chutzpah. Barack Obama is the most politically motivated politician on the planet with his persistent pandering to his base. Ascribing the President’s grossest defect of leadership to Netanyahu is insulting to us all.

The administration did provide an official response to the Goldberg article. The ever-feckless Susan Rice claimed that the Israel-U.S. relationship has never been stronger. She also stated, amid a vociferous chorus of opposing voices from the Israeli parliament, that no crisis exists between the two countries.

Rice must have skipped the article and read from a prepared statement. But, there is one thing everyone can agree on. Whenever Obama’s national security adviser opens her mouth ridiculous untruths escape with reckless abandon.

This is not Goldberg’s first interview of White House officials on the relationship between the Obama administration and the Israeli Prime Minister. Last March, The Atlantic ran a Goldberg interview of the President himself about the difficulties Obama faced in attempting to contain Israel’s threatened aggression against Iran.

At that time, the White House feared an Israeli preventative strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. But, according to Obama’s chickenshits this week, aggression from the gutless Israeli leader is no longer a concern.

Netanyahu must be thinking sticks and stones and all that and a bunch of other things as well.

 

 

Riley

WHOA – THE POOR CAN VOTE?

DATELINE: Ballotville, October 25 – Back when the Founding Fathers were founding, only landowners could vote. There was none of this right to vote nonsense for renters or lesser beings. You had to have financial skin in the game in order to play. Otherwise, you were fated to make bad decisions.

Most people today who adore the landed gentry that delivered a bouncing baby nation wince at the voting restrictions back then. We’re used to every citizen 18 years of age or older voting, even without any identification. In fact, voter fraud is preferred in 39 states.

That’s quite a change over the past two hundred years or so. But not all of the early American voting ideals have been abandoned. Voters still have financial skin in the game. It’s just not always their own skin. Some do earn their own way and vote their wallets. But others are engrafted to their government assistance checks and vote the first group’s wallets, too.

That’s a lot of wear and tear on the same set of wallets. It, and a determined disregard of financial reality in Washington D.C., has got us leaning far out over the abyss of economic disaster. And the situation is worsening daily. You can’t have a solid financial footing if those with a vested interest in rooting out responsible stewardship outnumber the rest of the elected.

What’s a country to do? Leave it to the Chinese to come up with a solution. Hong Kong’s top post, Chief Executive, is an elected position. And citizens vote in the election. But, China doesn’t let things get out of hand. A nominating committee tightly controlled by the government selects the candidates and Beijing can refuse to install the winner.

So, while everyone votes, the multitudinous poor cannot tip the scale in favor of an irresponsible candidate.

Is this solution really so bad? Of course it is. Plus, we want to get away from government control since the government is the biggest part of our financial predicament.

How about this – the vote goes to those who get no government assistance. If the top rung on your life’s ambition ladder is labeled Fry Cook, no vote for you. But, if you’re industriousness enough to support yourself and your family on your own, you cast a ballot. The skin in the game is really brain matter, which is all that matters.

Will this solution fly? You bet it won’t. It’s too Greatest Hits of Stalinism-Nazism-1984ism on the same CD.

If the vote is too sacrosanct to mess with, where does that leave us? How about a kind of Chinese-y solution – no matter who votes or how often, we still get responsible leaders. You know, people dedicated to the good of the country who can work together to implement effective solutions.

The problem is, of course, that we’ve never had enough of those types at the same time. If we had, the national debt would not have grown larger than Gulliver in the land of the Lilliputians.

Perhaps the lack of quality candidates stems from the lack of quality control on candidate eligibility. Anyone with enough backing from wealthy, vested interest-holders can run and probably win.

Actually, that sounds pretty much like the Chinese solution. Maybe falling into the abyss is the only way to motivate responsible behavior.

 

 

Riley

WHAT IN THE WORLD IS A GREAT RELIGION?

DATELINE: Pietyville, October 18 – President Obama is a tireless public supporter of Islam, a theme that began early in his Presidency. In April 2009 in an address before the Turkish Parliament, he conveyed, “our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world – including my own country.”

A couple of months later during a speech in Cairo, the President stated, “Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance.” He went on to say, “[W]e will encourage more Americans to study in Muslim communities.” Given recent world events, the encouragement has probably been back-burnered.

In the same remarks, he stated that “I also know that Islam has always been a part of America’s story.” He must have had a very different history book in his classes than the rest of us. In a September 10 speech, he separated the Prophet Muhammad’s religion from the ISIS terrorists who practice it in their own perverted way.

The President takes a hit on two counts for supporting Islam in his fashion. He does not extol any other religion in the same way, or even close to it. And many in the western world view Islam with suspicion, which then enshrouds the President like a burka.

We’ll let those critics take care of their own issues. The one dealt with here concerns a pronouncementObama made in his September 24 address to the United Nations. There he declared that Islam is “one of the world’s great religions”.

What does “one of the world’s great religions” mean other than there are at least two of them? What is a great religion? Does a religion that’s been around from antiquity qualify? No. Ancient means old not great.

How about a religion with millions of believers? No, again. People are too easily deceived especially in large groups. You know the old saying, none of us is as dumb as all of us.

Is a religion made great by its major tenets and practices? Maybe, if most of us agree with them, but Islamdoesn’t make that grade. It goes without saying that religions aren’t big on social equality. But, when it comes to the treatment of women, Islam has to use a telescope to see the bottom of the rest of the list.

There are other Islamic practices that most of us tend to shy away from. Death by stoning is the prescribed punishment for adultery while fornicators receive one hundred lashes, both administered in public.

Maybe a great religion is one that controls the most wealth. After all, the expression “great wealth” has to mean something.

In 1965, the Vatican’s wealth was estimated at between $10 -15 billion. Fifty years later, it is impossible to ballpark. Still, compared to the oil reserves in Islamic countries, the Vatican’s riches look like my old allowance – 25 cents every Thursday.

In terms of money controlled, Islam is THE world’s great religion. But, for most people, the only great religion is their own. Everybody else’s is mediocre at best.

So, why is Obama a constant apologist for a religion that, despite his claims, is not intertwined with this Country? Perhaps, by pumping it up and revising American history, he can generate a feeling of kinship toward what is really a very foreign belief system.

For thinking people, dummying up the details is an obstacle to the development of inclusionary attitudes. For people who don’t think, the President’s words are meaningless anyway.

 

 

Riley

WHEN NOT EVERYONE GETS THE MEMO

DATELINE: Lonelyville, September 14 –  It’s embarrassing when everyone seems to have gotten the memo but you. You feel left out, unimportant. It’s kind of depressing really. Just ask John Kerry. Or give National Security Advisor Susan Rice a call.

On Thursday, Kerry denied that we are at war with ISIS. Rather, according to the Secretary of State, the President’s speech the night before described a “very significant” and “major counterterrorism operation”, just not a war.

On the same day, Susan Rice struggled to describe the new ISIS strategy. She couldn’t decide whether it was war or a “sustained counterterrorism campaign.”

Another day, another characterization. On Friday, both the Pentagon and the White House corrected those who spoke the day before. Of course we’re at war with ISIS. But, just to be clear, it’s not like the old Iraq War. It couldn’t be because the President got us out of that one. It’s like the war we’re waging against Al Qaeda.

Apparently, the unstated distinction is that we’re not fighting with American boots on the ground. We’re fighting with American assaults in the air.

After the Pentagon and White House pronouncements, the State Department insisted that Kerry was on the same page. It’s just that no one bothered to ask him on Friday.

Well, the Secretary was asked on Sunday during an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation”. He stated affirmatively, “we are at war”. Predictably, Kerry then attempted to downplay the confusion in administration sources by characterizing the issue as “a kind of tortured debate going on about terminology.”

Kerry should be very used to terminology problems by now. Attempting to minimize the importance of Obama’s words is a necessary part of his job. In the same Sunday interview, he tried to explain some of the assertions in the President’s Wednesday night speech. Obama had stated, “[I]n each of these four parts of our strategy, America will be joined by a broad coalition of partners.”

Obama’s claim sure sounded like the coalition was a done deal. His words were unequivocal. And, he’d just come from a NATO summit where, according to him, an ISIS coalition would be pursued.

But, he must have forgotten to secure the buy in of our partners for the airstrikes prong because the negatives started coming in right after his speech. The Germans weren’t asked to participate and stated that they would not be involved in air assaults. The Turks will restrict their support to humanitarian aid. The British are undecided.

On Sunday, Kerry admitted that Obama’s “broad coalition of partners” had yet to be identified. Or, as he put it, the administration “is not ready to announce which country will take what actions.”

The more we learn, the less we understand Obama’s speech. Was it just a bunch of polito-babble spewed out in an effort to shore up tanking poll numbers? Was there nothing of substance behind it

Now that everyone’s gotten the memo, we don’t get the memo. What in the world does it actually mean?

 

 

Riley

ORCHESTRATING APPEARANCES

DATELINEImageville, September 9 –  Where in the world is Barack Obama’s gift of gab when he really needs it? As far as public speakers go, one fan puts him in the first trinity among U.S. Presidents in the modern era. The other two are JFK and FDR. That’s pretty rarefied air. Even those who aren’t nearly as fawning give him high marks for his oratory, at least some of the time.

Personally, I never thought much of the President’s grandstanding blah, blah, blah. It’s way too affected. The guy is a Harvard grad yet he uses poor grammar and speaks in the singsong, snake-oil cadence of a circuit-riding preacher. It grates. Still, he does have a way of getting his message across that lights a fire under his supporters.

But, he’s considerably worse when he gets one-on-one with an interviewer, even when he’s in the friendly confines of NBC’s Meet The Press. It’s just not scripted enough. His teleprompter is nowhere in sight. He has to be extemporaneous. Usually, he ad-libs himself into saying regrettably stupid things.

Last Sunday was no exception. Obama spoke to the Meet The Press moderator on a variety of topics. One of them was his golf outing that began within minutes after he condemned the James Foley beheading. Critics of all political stripes ripped him for being so callous at such a tragic time. Couldn’t he have just stayed indoors and played a rousing game of twister instead?

No need, according to Obama, because the problem with the golf outing was not his insensitivity, which, by the way, he never denied. The problem was “unanticipated optics.” He forgot to consider how bad his behavior would look to everyone on the planet except, of course, to ISIS. That his choice to play golf was heartless was not the point. The point was, it was just bad press.

The President had some bad words for the press, too. According to him, those people had to know how truly devastated he was over Foley’s death, but they chose to play up the golf angle anyway. It’s reassuring to know that, while his rhetoric may slip from time to time, his blame game remains sharp.

Obama did concede that he is not a good player in the “theater” of the Presidency created by the media. Right. He’s much better in the theater of the absurd.

 

 

Riley

CONSISTENCY ONLY WORKS SOMETIMES

DATELINEHobgoblinville, September 7 –  Consistency is great if you’re training a puppy or grooving the perfect golf swing. But it’s not a resume highlight if you’re President of the United States and your claim to consistency fame is agonizing indecision.

Obama’s delay this week of his promised executive action on immigration is just another instance of incapacitating fear triumphing over political fortune. Not that politics should be a winner. It’s that postponing the measure guaranteed to pro-immigration groups in June shows that the President’s hesitation is not merely over defense of the nation. It permeates everything he does.

Most critics chastise Obama’s executive action delay as an unabashed attempt to protect members of his party in the November elections. And this time, the criticism is coming from all points along the political spectrum.

Republicans jeer the move as cowardly since Democrats will not have to defend unilateral amnesty during their fall campaigns. Groups who were promised action “before the end of summer” agree with the assessment and have expressed bitter disappointment. They actually expected the President to be as good as his word.

With a ridiculous twist, the President agrees that politics is at the heart of his delay. He claims that the initial Republican condemnation in June deceived voters. Obama needs more time to formulate a convincing counter-argument so the easily confused, which is most of us, can better understand the issue.

Wow. That’s a bunch of baloney. In fact, the whole politics excuse is pure hokum. Obama admitted as much when he went on to state the real reason for the delay. According to him, he and his staff must get “all our ducks in a row for the executive action” before it can be taken.

Well, let’s see. He made the ironclad promise to act before the end of summer on June 30. You’d think that, when he gave the guarantee, his people knew how to get those pesky ducks lined up.

After all, White House staffers know how to produce executive actions. According to the Federal Register, Obama has issued 184 of them so far.

And the White House has been studying the immigration problem for six years. You’d also have to think that Obama’s people have all of that nailed down by now, but apparently not. It makes you wonder who’s easily confused by the issue.

At the end of the day, it’s not the ducks that are refusing to cooperate. It’s that the President’s ironclad promises are covered in chicken feathers.

 

 

Riley

WHAT IS HE TALKING ABOUT NOW?

DATELINENoWhere’sville, September 3 –  President Obama is the most muddled in his messaging when he scrambles to be clear. Take his statement this morning that a coalition of nations must “degrade and destroy” ISIS by shrinking it into a “manageable problem.”

This declaration was made in response to heavy criticism from both parties over his admission last week regarding ISIS, “we don’t have a strategy, yet”.

It also was intended to staunch the political bleeding over the revelation yesterday that the President has received daily ISIS briefings for the past year. How long does strategy formulation take?

More urgently, Obama wanted to make a strong response to the beheading of a second American journalist, also reported yesterday.

Obama’s pronouncement today failed to achieve any of his objectives. Problems are not destroyed by being made manageable. They are destroyed by being demolished, leveled, crushed, devastated, obliterated, eradicated, exterminated. Destruction is annihilation.

Obama’s assertion that “we can continue to shrink ISIL’s sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its financing, its military capabilities to the point where it is a manageable problem” is a bureaucrat’s notion of how to deal with a deviation from the norm. It is not the way to destroy a brutally effective military operation.

It was also not the end of Obama’s statement. He concluded his remarks with, “And the question is going to be making sure we’ve got the right strategy but also making sure we’ve got the international will to do it.”

So, in conclusion, the President reminds us, yet again, that there still is no ISIS strategy. But, he does have at the ready his ever-handy security blanket of inaction – international cooperation. The insistence on working together is just another way of saying that we will sit on the sidelines and watch as ISIS continues its march.

Maybe the President was just jet-lagged today when he decided to step up to the microphone and be more clear. After all he is in Estonia, which is a long way from home. On the other hand, he seems to live, politically speaking, an even longer way from home.