Fund Your Utopia Without Me.™

21 September 2013

No Material Support for Terrorists

The administration is violating the law by aiding the Syrian opposition.

Tuesday, on the Corner, I decried Republican assent to the Obama policy of arming the opposition to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. As I’ve previously observed, these so-called rebels are more accurately described as mujahideen — meaning jihad warriors, which is what many of them proclaim themselves to be. Throughout its ranks and in key leadership posts, the Assad opposition championed by the bipartisan Beltway prominently features the Muslim Brotherhood, a virulently anti-American Islamic-supremacist organization. The opposition, moreover, is rife with al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists, including groups such as al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. These jihadists are among the opposition’s most effective fighters, so much so that the purportedly “moderate” commanders have threatened to quit the “Free Syrian Army” — the group Washington would have us support — if Western pressure to exclude them continues.

In the Corner post, I belittled Washington’s approach as “the Obama-GOP Doctrine”: to wit, “If you are with us, you are with the terrorists” — a starkly embarrassing contrast to the Bush Doctrine (“Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists”) announced in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

This latest round in the roiling debate over Syria policy was triggered by President Obama’s waiver of statutory prohibitions against aiding terrorists. In response to fierce criticism, the administration and its bipartisan supporters claim that the waiver is a valid exercise of the president’s authority under the Arms Export Control Act (AECA). They urge (a) that the waiver is necessary to provide the Syrian “rebels” with equipment that will protect them from what is alleged to be the Assad regime’s practice of using chemical weapons; and (b) that since the AECA applies to Syria only — purportedly — because of its relationship with Hezbollah, the waiver is appropriate because it is designed not to help Hezbollah but to help the opposition that is fighting both Hezbollah and Assad.

These rationalizations fail for several reasons.

1. The Waiver Is Illegal Under the Terms of the AECA 

Notice that my post does not confine itself to the AECA — I contended that Obama is violating “prohibitions in federal law” against aiding terrorists. These prohibitions are considerably broader than just the AECA. But for starters, let’s stick to the AECA.

Under the pertinent provision of the act, the prohibitions against military aid to a country are not limited by its government’s history of promoting particular terrorist groups. That is to say, even if it were correct that Hezbollah alone was responsible for the AECA’s application to Syria, this would not narrow transactions prohibited under the statute to those by which the Assad regime could benefit Hezbollah. (As it happens, Hezbollah is far from the only terrorist entity abetted by Syria; the Assad regime’s patron is Iran, the world’s numero uno terrorism promoter; Syria, furthermore, has a history of supporting and providing safe harbor for Hamas — the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian terrorist branch, which happens to be allied with the “rebels” in the Syrian civil war.) 

In point of fact, AECA prohibitions apply to countries, not regimes that govern countries — i.e., they apply here to Syria, not just Assad. There is good reason for this. If a government with a history of supporting terrorism is on the brink of collapse or overthrow, there is even more risk than usual that any weaponry and other military aid we provide will fall into the hands of terrorists. This is not just abstract logic; we know it from our own very recent experience: Since the regime fell in Qaddafi’s Libya — thanks to Obama’s unauthorized war — weapons distributed to and purloined by jihadists have fueled al-Qaeda’s operations in North Africa and may well have contributed to the Benghazi massacre, in which four American officials were murdered and several others seriously wounded.

In any event, once the AECA applies to a country, the provision of military and other aid outlined in the statute is prohibited. The president’s power to waive this prohibition is very limited. It is not good enough for the president to say the aid is in U.S. interests. A waiver is valid only if the aid in question is “essential” to U.S. “national security” interests. The interests of Syrians are irrelevant under the law’s plain terms.

It is inconceivable that supplying materiel to Syrians, including equipment that protects people from chemical weapons, could be essential to American national security. Obviously, if American national security were actually at risk, we would be invading Syria with our own forces, not arming the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda.

In fact, in the case of Syria, it is more likely true that withholding protective equipment and arms is essential to American national security. There are, after all, reports — from Turkey, Iraq, and Syria — detailing chemical-weapons manufacturing, procurement, and use by al-Qaeda-affiliated groups that are systematically incorporated into the operations of the Syrian opposition. The Obama administration and Republican leaders are in high dudgeon over Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons, but they seem to have a frog in their throats when it comes to the “rebels.” As I recounted in a recent column, though:

[Here’s] the dirty little secret about chemical weapons: The rebels not only want them, they have them and they quite likely have used them, both in Syria and elsewhere. Al-Qaeda has been seeking to procure and use chemical weapons for over 20 years — and unlike Assad, al-Qaeda affiliates are quite likely to use them against the United States and Israel if they have the chance.

Our government’s provision to the opposition of protective equipment could, perversely, encourage these jihadist elements to continue their chemical-weapons activities. Access to protective equipment means there is less risk in the manufacture, handling, and use of these weapons.

2. Material Support to Terrorism

As noted above, my post was not limited to the AECA. Federal law prohibits material support to terrorism. In fact, since being enacted in the mid-Nineties, the material-support laws have become the backbone of anti-terrorism prosecutions. Numerous sympathizers of al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Hamas organization have been sentenced to lengthy jail terms for providing assets that can be useful to terrorists in their operations.

As I recounted in the post, Senator Bob Corker unabashedly asserted that the U.S. government knows its support of the “rebels” means “some people are going to get arms that should not be getting arms”; yet he rationalized that this had to be overlooked for the greater good of “support[ing] the free Syrian opposition.” Under federal law, however, there is no overlooking it. Having a (purportedly) higher purpose is not a defense for the knowing provision of material support to terrorists. 

In fact, many material-support prosecutions involve donations to ostensible Islamic charities. Sounding much like Senator Corker, the defendants routinely claim that, while they knew some of their support would probably fall into terrorist hands, this was a risk worth running because they had a higher purpose, to promote social-welfare activities. Those defendants are now serving decades in prison. That’s because American law — at least when you have a Justice Department that enforces it — draws a bright line against terrorism. If an entity facilitates terrorism, even as only a small part of its activities, our law deems it radioactive, such that contributing to it is a felony, period. It doesn’t matter that the donor says he had good intentions.

Obviously, in Syria, as in Libya, the Obama administration and those who support its policy want a different set of laws for themselves from the one that Americans are obliged to follow. But Congress’s job — especially the loyal-opposition part of Congress — is to act as a check against executive lawlessness. Here, sadly, Congress is encouraging the administration to violate the law. 

3. Bring Back the Bush Doctrine . . . and Try Following It

A dozen years ago, following the 9/11 attacks — themselves the foreseeable result of Clinton-era fecklessness about al-Qaeda and solicitude towards “moderate” Islamic supremacists — Republicans rightly sensed that it was time to demonstrate firm resolve. President Bush spoke for them, and for most Americans, when he laid down an unambiguous, unapologetic marker: “You are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”

Now, by contrast, the Obama administration has quite intentionally moved us away from that shining but fleeting moment of strategic clarity. What we need is an opposition party that resists. What we need is an opposition party that remembers why what President Bush said in the days after nearly 3,000 of us were killed needed both to be said and acted on. What we need is an opposition party that says if one dollar or one bullet goes to al-Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood, that is one too many.

That kind of opposition is sorely lacking.

Pic of the Day: Will Somebody Please Give Obama A Blow Job So....

Embedded image permalink

h/t Axe

Slouching Toward a Banana Republic

The decay of a free society doesn’t happen overnight, but we’re getting there.

By  Mark Steyn 

‘This is the United States of America,” declared President Obama to the burghers of Liberty, Mo., on Friday. “We’re not some banana republic.” 

He was talking about the Annual Raising of the Debt Ceiling, which glorious American tradition seems to come round earlier every year. “This is not a deadbeat nation,” President Obama continued. “We don’t run out on our tab.” True. But we don’t pay it off either. We just keep running it up, ever higher. And every time the bartender says, “Mebbe you’ve had enough, pal,” we protest, “Jush another couple trillion for the road. Set ’em up, Joe.” And he gives you that look that kinda says he wishes you’d run out on your tab back when it was $23.68. 

Still, Obama is right. We’re not a banana republic, if only because the debt of banana republics is denominated in a currency other than their own — i.e., the U.S. dollar. When you’re the guys who print the global currency, you can run up debts undreamt of by your average generalissimo. As Obama explained in another of his recent speeches, “Raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt.” I won’t even pretend to know what he and his speechwriters meant by that one, but the fact that raising the debt ceiling “has been done over a hundred times” does suggest that spending more than it takes in is now a permanent feature of American government. And no one has plans to do anything about it. Which is certainly banana republic-esque. 

Is all this spending necessary? Every day, the foot-of-page-37 news stories reveal government programs it would never occur to your dimestore caudillo to blow money on. On Thursday, it was the Food and Drug Administration blowing just shy of $200 grand to find out whether its Twitter and Facebook presence is “well-received.” A fifth of a million dollars isn’t even a rounding error in most departmental budgets, so nobody cares. But the FDA is one of those sclerotic American institutions that has near to entirely seized up. In October 1920, it occurred to an Ontario doctor called Frederick Banting that insulin might be isolated and purified and used to treat diabetes; by January 1923, Eli Lilly & Co were selling insulin to American pharmacies: A little over two years from concept to market. Now the FDA adds at least half-a-decade to the process, and your chances of making it through are far slimmer: As recently as the late Nineties, they were approving 157 new drugs per half-decade. Today it’s less than half that. 

But they’ve got $182,000 to splash around on finding out whether people really like them on Facebook, or they’re just saying that. So they’ve given the dough to a company run by Dan Beckmann, a former “new media aide” to President Obama. That has the whiff of the banana republic about it, too. 

The National Parks Service, which I had carelessly assumed was the service responsible for running national parks, has been making videos on Muslim women’s rights: “Islam gave women a whole bunch of rights that Western women acquired later in the 19th and 20th centuries, and we’ve had these rights since the seventh century,” explains a lady from AnNur Islamic School in Schenectady at the National Park Service website, Fascinating stuff, no doubt. But what’s it to do with national parks? Maybe the rangers could pay Dan Beckmann a quarter-million bucks to look into whether the National Parks’ Islamic outreach is using social media as effectively as it might. 

Where do you go to get a piece of this action? As the old saying goes, bank robbers rob banks because that’s where the money is. But the smart guys rob taxpayers because that’s where the big money is. According to the Census Bureau’s latest “American Community Survey,” between 2000 and 2012 the nation’s median household income dropped 6.6 percent. Yet in the District of Columbia median household income rose 23.3 percent. According to a 2010 survey, seven of the nation’s ten wealthiest counties are in the Washington commuter belt. Many capital cities have prosperous suburbs — London, Paris, Rome — because those cities are also the capitals of enterprise, finance, and showbiz. But Washington does nothing but government, and it gets richer even as Americans get poorer. That’s very banana republic, too: Proximity to state power is now the best way to make money. Once upon a time Americans found fast-running brooks and there built mills to access the water that kept the wheels turning. But today the ambitious man finds a big money-no-object bureaucracy that likes to splash the cash around and there builds his lobbying group or consultancy or social media optimization strategy group. 

The CEO of Panera Bread, as some kind of do-gooder awareness-raising shtick, is currently attempting to live on food stamps, and not finding it easy. But being dependent on government handouts isn’t supposed to be easy. Instead of trying life at the bottom, why doesn’t he try life in the middle? In 2012, the top 10 percent were taking home 50.4 percent of the nation’s income. That’s an all-time record, beating out the 49 percent they were taking just before the 1929 market crash. With government redistributing more money than ever before, we’ve mysteriously wound up with greater income inequality than ever before. Across the country, “middle-class” Americans have accumulated a trillion dollars in college debt in order to live a less comfortable life than their high-school-educated parents and grandparents did in the Fifties and Sixties. That’s banana republic, too: no middle class, but only a government elite and its cronies, and a big dysfunctional mass underneath, with very little social mobility between the two. 

Like to change that? Maybe advocate for less government spending? Hey, Lois Lerner’s IRS has got an audit with your name on it. The tax collectors of the United States treat you differently according to your political beliefs. That’s pure banana republic, but no one seems to mind very much. This week it emerged that senior Treasury officials, up to and including Turbotax Timmy Geithner, knew what was going on at least as early as spring 2012. But no one seems to mind very much. In the words of an insouciant headline writer at Government Executive, “the magazine for senior federal bureaucrats” (seriously), back in May: 

“The Vast Majority of IRS Employees Aren’t Corrupt” 

So, if the vast majority aren’t, what proportion is corrupt? Thirty-eight percent? Thirty-three? Twenty-seven? And that’s the good news? The IRS is not only institutionally corrupt, it’s corrupt in the service of one political party. That’s Banana Republic 101. 

What comes next? Government officials present in Benghazi during last year’s slaughter have been warned not to make themselves available to congressional inquiry. CNN obtained one e-mail spelling out the stakes to CIA employees: “You don’t jeopardize yourself, you jeopardize your family as well.” 

“That’s all very ominous,” wrote my colleague Jonah Goldberg the other day, perhaps a little too airily for my taste. I’d rank it somewhere north of “ominous.”  

“Banana republic” is an American coinage — by O. Henry, a century ago, for a series of stories set in the fictional tropical polity of Anchuria. But a banana republic doesn’t happen overnight; it’s a sensibility, and it’s difficult to mark the precise point at which a free society decays into something less respectable. Pace Obama, ever swelling debt, contracts for cronies, a self-enriching bureaucracy, a shrinking middle class preyed on by corrupt tax collectors, and thuggish threats against anyone who disagrees with you put you pretty far down the banana-strewn path.

20 September 2013

Census: Americans in ‘Poverty’ Typically Have Cell Phones, Computers, TVs, VCRS, AC, Washers, Dryers and Microwaves

Terry Jeffrey

Americans who live in households whose income is below the federal “poverty” level typically have cell phones (as well as landline phones), computers, televisions, video recorders, air conditioning, refrigerators, gas or electric stoves, and washers and dryers and microwaves, according to a newly released report from the Census Bureau.

In fact, 80.9 percent of households below the poverty level have cell phones, and a healthy majority—58.2 percent—have computers.

Fully 96.1 percent of American households in “poverty” have a television to watch, and 83.2 percent of them have a video-recording device in case they cannot get home in time to watch the football game or their favorite television show and they want to record it for watching later.

Refrigerators (97.8 percent), gas or electric stoves (96.6 percent) and microwaves (93.2 percent) are standard equipment in the homes of Americans in "poverty."

More than 83 percent have air-conditioning.

Interestingly, the appliances surveyed by the Census Bureau that households in poverty are least likely to own are dish washers (44.9 percent) and food freezers (26.2 percent).

However, most Americans in “poverty” do not need to go to a laundromat. According to the Census Bureau, 68.7 percent of households in poverty have a clothes washer and 65.3 percent have a clothes dryer.

The estimates on the percentage of households in poverty that have these appliances were derived by the Census Bureau from its Survey of Income and Program Participation. The latest report on this survey, released this month, published data collected in 2011. 

Here are the percentages of households below the poverty level that the Census Bureau estimates had the following appliances:

Clothes washer: 68.7%

Clothes dryer: 65.3%

Dish washer: 44.9%

Refrigerator: 97.8%

Food freezer: 26.2%

Stove: 96.6%

Microwave: 93.2%

Air conditioner: 83.4%

Television: 96.1%

Video recorder/DVD: 83.2%

Computer: 58.2%

Telephone (landline): 54.9%

Cell phone: 80.9%

I'll have more to say on the subject shortly.

Table 1. Percent of Households Reporting Consumer Durables, For Householders 15 Years and Older, by Selected Characteristics: 2011 [XLS - 41K]

Table 2. Percent of Households Reporting Favorable Housing Conditons by Selected Characteristics, For Householders 15 Years and Older: 2011 [XLS - 41K]

Table 3. Percent of Householders Reporting Satisfaction with Housing Conditions, by Selected Characteristics, For Householders 15 Years and Older: 2011 [XLS - 40K]

Table 4. Percent of Households Reporting Aspects of Neighborhood Safety by Selected Characteristics, For Householders 15 Years and Older: 2011 [XLS - 41K]

Table 5. Percent of Householders Reporting Favorable Neighborhood Conditions by Selected Characteristics, For Householders 15 Years and Older: 2011 [XLS - 41K]

Table 6. Percent of Households Reporting Satisfaction with Community Services , by Selected Characteristics, For Householders 15 Years and Older: 2011 [XLS - 40K]

Table 7. Distribution of School Type and Percent Reporting Satisfaction with Schools by Selected Characteristics, For Households With Children Under 18: 2011 [XLS - 39K]

Table 8. Percent of Householders Reporting Meeting Basic Needs by Selected Characteristics, For Householders 15 Years and Older: 2011 [XLS - 40K]

Table 9. Percent of Householders Expecting Help and Receiving Help Meeting Basic Needs by Selected Characteristics, For Householders 15 Years and Older: 2011 [XLS - 35K]

Table 10. Percent of Households with Selected Measures of Material Well-Being: 1992, 1998, 2003, 2005, 2010, and 2011 [XLS - 42K]

Farce: Madame Botox Rides To The Rescue. 'He's Eloquent! He's Nonpartisan!'


Some examples of Obama’s non-partisanship:

'It’s very rare that I come to an event where I’m like the fifth- or sixth-most interesting person.'

- President Barack Obama, 22 August 2012

'I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.'

-- President Barack Obama, 26 April 2010


'If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,’ if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s gonna be harder and that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on November 2...Republicans such as Senator John McCain, who are stressing border security and supporting strict immigration laws like Arizona’s anti-illegal immigration measure, well, 'Those aren’t the kinds of folks who represent our core American values.'

- President Barack Obama, 25 October 2010

'I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions.'

- Senator Barack Obama, 30 July 2008

'So we've got some work to do. I don't mind, by the way, being responsible; I expect to be held responsible for these issues because I'm the President.  But I don't want the folks who created the mess -- I don't want the folks who created the mess do a lot of talking. I want them just to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess.  I don't mind cleaning up after them, but don't do a lot of talking.'

- President Barack Obama, 6 August 2009

'That’s just how white folks will do you. It wasn’t merely the cruelty involved; I was learning that black people could be mean and then some. It was a particular brand of arrogance, an obtuseness in otherwise sane people that brought forth our bitter laughter. It was as if whites didn’t know that they were being cruel in the first place. Or at least thought you deserving of their scorn.'

- Barack Obama, Dreams From My Father

'The Republican plan says that what’s been standing in the way between us and full employment are laws that keep companies from polluting as much as they want.  On the other hand, our plan my puts teachers, construction workers, firefighters and police officers back on the job.  My plan says we’re going to put teachers back in the classroom, construction workers back to work rebuilding America, rebuilding our schools, tax cuts for small businesses, tax cuts for hiring veterans, tax cuts if you give your worker a raise.  That’s my plan. THEN YOU’VE GOT THEIR PLAN, WHICH IS, LET’S HAVE DIRTIER AIR, DIRTIER WATER, LESS PEOPLE WITH HEALTH INSURANCE. So far at least, I feel better about my plan.'

-  Obama, speech at the regional airport in Asheville, N.C., 17 October 2011

If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.
– Senator Barack Obama, 14 July 2008

I won. 

– Barack Hussein Obama, as top congressional leaders from both parties gathered at the White House for a working discussion over the shape and size of Obama’s economic stimulus plan. The meeting was designed to promote bipartisanship, 23 January 2009

‘Does anybody think that the teabag, anti-government people are going to support them if they bring down health care? 

– President Barack Obama, 8 November 2009 

‘In all, we passed 25 different tax cuts last year. And one thing we haven’t done is raise income taxes on families making less than $250,000 a year — another promise that we kept. So I’ve been a little amused over the last couple of days where teabaggers have been having these rallies about taxes and waiving around tea bags. You would think they would be saying thank you. 

– President Barack Obama, 16 April 2010

‘The unanimous vote of House Republicans vote against the stimulus bills set the tenor for the whole year … That helped to create the tea-baggers and empowered that whole wing of the Republican Party to where it now controls the agenda for the Republicans. 

– President Barack Obama, 30 November 2009

'It’s important for people to know that I will make many promises to get their votes. 

– Barack Hussein Obama, (Dem) Senator from Illinois and 2008 Presidential nominee

 ‘I believe in returning the nation’s wealth to its rightful owners.’ 

– Barack Hussein Obama, President of the United States, 2010

‘I need you to go out and talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors. I want you to talk to them whether they are independent or whether they are Republican. I want you to argue with them and get in their face. 

Barack Hussein Obama, addressing Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN)

‘The only people who don’t want to disclose the truth are the people with something to hide.’ 

– Barack Hussein Obama, President of the United States

There was something stirring across the country because of what happened in Selma, Alabama, because some folks are willing to march across a bridge. So they got together and Barack Obama Jr. was born. 

– Barack Hussein Obama, (Dem) Senator from Illinois and 2008 Presidential nominee. Barack Obama Jr. was born in 1961. The Selma march took place in 1965

‘It’s not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they’ve got a chance at success, too…I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.’ 

—Barack Hussein Obama

I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shifts in an ugly direction.

– Barack Hussein Obama, quote from his book “The Audacity of Hope” page 261

You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done.' 

– Barack Hussein Obama, speaking to Republican leaders of Congress, 23 January 2009

…just because you have an individual right does not mean that the state or local government can’t constrain the exercise of that right… 

– Barack Hussein Obama, 2008 Philadelphia primary debate 

I don’t believe people should be able to own guns. 

– Barack Hussein Obama, speaking to economist and author John Lott Jr

‘We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.’ 

– Barack Hussein Obama speaking about forming a Civilian National Security Force, 02 July 2008

‘You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. They fell through the Clinton administration and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate. And they have not. And it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations. 

– Barack Hussein Obama, describing small-town, working-class voters people from Pennsylvania in a speech on 06 April 2008 as reported in the Huffington Post

‘Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems; some of these same voices also are doing their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave and creative and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.’ 

– Barack Hussein Obama, commencement speech at The Ohio State University, 05 May 2013…and mere days before the IRS-NSA-AP-Rosen scandals broke

I will not sign a healthcare reform plan that adds one dime to our deficits, either now or in the future. 

– Barack Hussein Obama, President of the United States, 2009

‘Look, it’s an all volunteer force. Nobody made these guys go to war. They had to have known and accepted the risks. Now they whine about bearing the costs of their choice? It doesn’t compute. I thought these were people who were proud to sacrifice for their country. I wasn’t asking for blood, just money. With the country facing the worst financial crisis in its history, I’d have thought that the patriotic thing to do would be to try to help reduce the nation’s deficit. I guess I underestimated the selfishness of some of my fellow Americans.’ 

– Barack Hussein Obama, in a speech about healthcare for Veterans, 2009

  ‘I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shifts in an ugly direction.’ 

– Barack Hussein Obama, quote from his book “The Audacity of Hope” page 261

‘The point I was making was not that Grandmother harbors any racial animosity. She doesn’t. But she is a typical white person… 

– Barack Hussein Obama, (Dem) Senator from Illinois and 2008 Presidential nominee 

‘While the United States has done much to promote peace and prosperity in the hemisphere, we have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms.’ 

– Barack Hussein Obama, in the Address to the Summit of the Americas, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 17 April 2009

There’s nothing special about Britain. You’re just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn’t expect special treatment. 

Barack Hussein Obama, dismissing the notion of the special relationship between the United States and Britain,, 07 March 2009

‘I want to solve these problems, and I want to solve them together as Americans. And we will be ill served by some of the fear-mongering that emerges whenever we discuss this issue.’ 

-- Barack Hussein Obama, commenting on closing Guantanamo Bay and releasing the enemy combatants and terrorists held there

‘To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets.’ 

-- Barack Hussein Obama, quote from his book “Dreams of My Father” page 100-101

‘The public school system is not about educating black children. Never has been. Inner-city schools are about social control. Period. They’re operated as holding pens – miniature jails, really. It’s only when black children start breaking out of their pens and bothering white people that society even pays any attention to the issue of whether these children are being educated.’

-- Barack Hussein Obama

And, while the still-warmed bodies of deceased Americans laid where they fell in the Washington Navy Yard and as still more were left to 'shelter-in-place' as bullets whizzed and flew by them whilst first responders tended to the wounded and security searched for the one three two one hidden shooter evaded police, the  'Eloquent' Preezy of da United Skeezy delivered this 'nonpartisan' speech:

...As any middle-class family will tell you or anybody who’s striving to get into the middle class, we are not yet where we need to be.

And that’s what we’ve got to focus on: All the remaining work that needs to be done to strengthen this economy. We need to grow faster. We need more good-paying jobs. We need more broad-based prosperity. We need more ladders of opportunity for people who are currently poor, but want to get into the middle class.

Because even though our businesses are creating new jobs and have broken record profits, the top 1 percent of Americans took home 20 percent of the nation’s income last year, while the average worker isn’t seeing a raise at all.

In fact, that understates the problem. Most of the gains have gone to the top one-tenth of 1 percent. So in many ways, the trends that have taken hold over the past few decades of a winner-take-all economy, where a few do better and better and better, while everybody else just treads water or loses ground, those trends have been made worse by the recession.

That’s where we should be focused on. That’s what I’m focused on. That’s what I know the Americans standing beside me, as well as all of you out there are focused on.

And as Congress begins another budget debate, that’s what Congress should be focused on: How do we grow the economy faster; how do we create better jobs; how do we increased wages and incomes; how do we increase opportunity for those that have been locked out of opportunity; how do we create better retirement security?

That’s where we should be focused on, because the stakes for our middle class and everybody who’s fighting to get into the middle class could not be higher.

In today’s hypercompetitive world, we have to make the investments necessary to attract good jobs that pay good wages and offer high standards of living.

And although ultimately our success will depend on all the innovation and hard work of our private sector -- all that grit and resilience of the American people -- government is going to have a critical role in making sure we have education system that prepares our children and our workers for a global economy. The budget Congress passes will determine whether we can hire more workers to upgrade our transportation and communications networks, or fund the kinds of research and development that have always kept America on the cutting edge.

So what happens here in Washington makes a difference. What happens up on Capitol Hill is going to help determine not only the pace of our growth, but also the quality of jobs, the quality of opportunity, for this generation and future generations.

The problem is -- at the moment, Republicans in Congress don’t seem to be focused on how to growth economy and build the middle class. I say, at the moment, because I am still hoping that a light bulb goes off here. So far, their budget ideas revolve primarily around even deeper cuts to education, even deeper cuts that would gut America’s scientific research and development, even deeper cuts to America’s infrastructure investment -- our roads, our bridges, our schools our energy grid. These aren’t the policies that would grow the economy faster.

They’re not the policies that would grow the middle class. In fact, they would do the opposite. Up until now, Republicans have argued that these cuts are necessary in the name of fiscal responsibility, but our deficits are now falling at the fastest rate since the end of World War II. I want to repeat that. Our deficits are going down faster than any time since before I was born.

By the end of this year, we will have cut our deficits by more than half since I took office. That doesn’t mean that we don’t still have some long-term fiscal challenges, primarily because the population’s getting older, and they’re using more health care services. And so we’ve still got some changes that we’ve got to make. And there’s not a government agency or program out there that still can’t be streamlined, become more customer-friendly, more efficient.

So I do believe we should cut our programs that we don’t need. We need to fix ones that aren’t working the way they’re supposed to or have outlived their initial mission. We’ve got to make government faster and more efficient.

But that’s not what is being proposed by the Republican budgets. Instead of making necessary changes with a scalpel, so far at least, Republicans have chosen to leave in place the so-called sequester cuts that have cost jobs, harmed growth, are hurting our military readiness.

And top independent economists say this has been a big drag on our recovery this year. Our economy’s not growing as fast as it should, and we’re not creating as many jobs as we should because the sequester’s in place.

That’s not my opinion. That’s the opinion of independent economists. The sequester makes it harder to do what’s required, to boost wages for American workers. The economy is still slack.

So, if Republicans want the economy to grow faster, create more jobs faster, they should want to get rid of it. It’s irresponsible to keep it in place. And if Congress is serious about wanting to grow the economy faster and creating jobs faster, the first order of business must be to pass a sensible budget that replaces the sequester with a balanced plan that is both fiscally sound and funds investments like education and basic research and infrastructure that we need to grow.

This is not asking too much. Congress’ most fundamental job is passing a budget. And Congress needs to get it done without triggering another crisis, without shutting down our government, or worse, threatening not to pay this country’s bill.

After all the progress that we’ve made over these past four-and- a-half years, the idea of reversing that progress because of an unwillingness to compromise or because of some ideological agenda is the height of irresponsibility. It’s not what the American people need right now.

These folks standing behind me, these are people who are small business owners; people who almost lost their home; young people trying to get a college education. And all of them went through some real tough times during the recession. And in part because of the steps we took, and primarily because of their courage and determination and hard work, they’re in a better place now.

The last thing they’re looking for is for us to go back to the same kind of crisis situations that we’ve had in the past. And the single-most important thing we can do to prevent that is for Congress to pass a budget without drama that puts us on a sound path for growth, jobs, better wages, better incomes.

Now, look, it’s never been easy to get 535 people here in Washington to agree on anything. And, you know, budget battles and debates, those are as old as the republic. It’s even harder when you have divided government, and right now, you’ve got Republicans controlling the House of Representatives and Democrats controlling the Senate and a Democrat in the White House. So this is always going to be tough.

Having said that, I cannot remember a time when one faction of one party promises economic chaos if it can’t get 100 percent of what it wants. That’s never happened before. But that’s what’s happening right now.

You have some Republicans in the House of Representatives who are promising to shut down the government at the end of this month if they can’t shut down the Affordable Care Act. And if that scheme doesn’t work, some have suggested they won’t pay the very bills that Congress has already run up, which would cause America to default on its debt for the first time in our history and would create massive economic turmoil, interest rates on ordinary people would shoot up. Those kinds of actions are the kind of actions that we don’t need.

The last time the same grew threatened this course of action back in 2011, even the mere suggestion of default slowed our economic growth. Everybody here remembers that; it wasn’t that long ago. Now, keep in mind, initially the whole argument was, we’re going to do this because we want to reduce our debt. That doesn’t seem to be the focus now. Now the focus is on Obamacare.

So let’s put this in perspective. The Affordable Care Act has been the law for three-and-a-half years now. It passed both houses of Congress. The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional. It was an issue in last year’s election, and the candidate who called for repeal lost. The Republicans in the House have tried to repeal or sabotage it about 40 times. They’ve failed every time. Meanwhile, the law’s already helped millions of Americans, young people who are able to stay on their parents’ plan up until the age of 26, seniors who are getting additional discounts on their prescription drugs, ordinary families and small businesses that are getting rebates from insurance companies, because now insurance companies have to actually spend money on people’s care instead of on administrative costs and CEO bonuses.

A lot of the, you know, horror stories that were predicted about how this was going to shoot rates way up and there were going to be death panels and all that stuff, none of that stuff’s happened. And in two weeks, the Affordable Care Act is going to help millions of more people. And there’s no serious evidence that the law, which has helped to keep down the rise in health care costs to their lowest level in 50 years, is holding back economic growth.

So repealing the Affordable Care Act, making sure that 30 million people don’t get health insurance and people with pre-existing conditions continue to be locked out of the health insurance market, that’s not an agenda for economic growth. You’re not going to meet an economist who says that that’s the number-one priority in terms of boosting growth and jobs in this country, at least not a serious economist.

And I understand, I will never convince some Republicans about the merits of Obamacare. I understand that. And I’m more than willing to work with them where they’ve got specific suggestions that they can show will make our health care system work better. Remember, initially this was like repeal and replace, and the replace thing has kind of gone off to the wayside. Now it’s just repeal.

But the larger point is, after all that we’ve been through these past five years, after all the work Americans like those standing behind me have done to come back from the depths of a crisis, are some of these folks really so beholden to one extreme wing of their party that they’re willing to tank the entire economy just because they can’t get their way on this issue? Are they really willing to hurt people just to score political points? I hope not.

But in case there’s any confusion, I will not negotiate over whether or not America keeps its word and meets its obligations. I will not negotiate over the full faith and credit of the United States. This country has worked too hard for too long to dig out of a crisis just to see their elected representatives here in Washington purposely cause another crisis.

Let’s stop the threats. Let’s stop the political posturing, Let’s keep our government open. Let’s pay our bills on time. Let’s pass a budget. Let’s work together to do what the American people sent us here to do: Create jobs; grow our economy; expand opportunity.

That’s what we need to do.

As far as the budget goes, it’s time for responsible Republicans who share these goals -- and there are a number of folks out there who I think are decent folks -- I’ve got some disagreements with them on some issues -- but I think genuinely want to see the economy grow and want what’s best for the American people.

It’s time for those Republicans to step up, and they’ve got to decide what they want to prioritize. Originally, they said they wanted deficit reduction. As I said before, our deficits are falling fast.

The only way to make further, long-term progress on deficit reduction that doesn’t slow growth is with a balanced plan that includes closing tax loopholes that benefit corporations and the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the middle class. It’s the only way to do it.

They said that they wanted entitlement reform. But their leaders haven’t put forward serious ideas that wouldn’t devastate Medicare or Social Security.

And I’ve put forward ideas for sensible reforms to Medicare and Social Security, and haven’t gotten a lot of feedback yet.

They said that they wanted tax reform. Remember? This was just a few months ago, they said, well, this is going to be one of our top priorities, tax reform.

Six weeks ago I put forward a plan that serious people in both parties should be able to support. A deal that lowers the corporate tax rate for businesses, and manufacturers, simplifies it for small business owners, as long as we use some of the money that we save to invest in the infrastructure our businesses need to create more good jobs and good wages for middle class folks who work at these businesses.

My position is, if folks in this town want a grand bargain, how about a grand bargain for middle class jobs. So I put forward ideas for tax reform. Haven’t heard back from them yet.

Now, Congress has a couple of weeks to get this done. If they’re focused don what the American people care about -- faster growth, more jobs, better future for our kids -- then I’m confident it will happen. And once we’re done with the budget, let’s focus on the other things that we know can make a difference for middle class families: The cost of college, finishing the job of immigration reform, taking up the work of tax reform to make the system fair and promoting more investment in the United States.

If we follow the strategy I’m laying out for our entire economy and if Washington will just act with the same urgency and common purpose that we felt five years ago, then our economy will be stronger -- a year from now, five years from now a decade from now.

That’s my priority.

All these folks standing behind me, and everybody out there who’s listening. That’s my priority.

I’ve run my last election. My only interest at this point is making sure that the economy is moving the way it needs to so we’ve got the kind of broad based growth that has always been the hallmark of this country.

As long as I’ve got the privilege of serving as your president, I will spend every moment of every day I have left fighting to restore security and opportunity for the middle class and to give everyone who works hard a chance to get ahead.

Thank you everybody. God bless you. God bless America.

Yup, that thar’s sum real deal ‘nonpartisanship’. Fer sure!!!

* On SesquesterSquatch....

'Already, some in Congress are trying to undo these automatic spending cuts. My message to them is simple: No. I WILL VETO ANY EFFORT TO GET RID OF THOSE AUTOMATIC SPENDING CUTS TO DOMESTIC AND DEFENSE SPENDING. There will be no easy off ramps on this one.'
- President Barack Obama, 21 November 2011

'In the short term, the good news is that there’s going to be a forcing mechanism to deal with what is the central ideological argument in Washington right now, and that is: How much government do we have and how do we pay for it?  So when you combine the Bush tax cuts expiring, THE SEQUESTER IN PLACE, the commitment of both myself and my opponent — at least Governor Romney claims that he wants to reduce the deficit — but we’re going to be in a position where I believe in the first six months we are going to solve that big piece of business.'

- President Barack Obama, Des Moines Register, 23 October 2012

The Pinocchio Test

No one disputes the fact that no one wanted sequestration, or that ultimately a bipartisan vote in Congress led to passage of the Budget Control Act. But the president categorically said that sequestration was “something that Congress has proposed.”

Woodward’s detailed account of meetings during the crisis, clearly based on interviews with key participants and contemporaneous notes, make it clear that sequestration was a proposal advanced and promoted by the White House.

In sum: Gene Sperling brought up the idea of a sequester, while Jack Lew sold Harry Reid on the idea and then decided to use the Gramm-Hollings-Rudman language (which he knew from his days of working for Tip O’Neill) as a template for sequester. The proposal was so unusual for Republicans that staffers had to work through the night to understand it.

Oddly, Lew in Tampa on Thursday, publicly asserted the opposite: “There was an insistence on the part of Republicans in Congress for there to be some automatic trigger…. [It] was very much rooted in the Republican congressional insistence that there be an automatic measure at the end.”
This prompted Woodward to go over his notes and interviews once again, to make sure he had gotten it right.

“After reviewing all the interviews and the extensive material I have on this issue, it looks like President Obama told a whopper,” Woodward said. “Based on what Jack Lew said in Florida today, I have asked the White House to correct the record.”

We had been wavering between Three and Four Pinocchios. But in light’s of Lew’s decision to doubledown on Obama’s claim, we agree it’s a whopper. 

Four Pinocchios
'I was for SequesterSquatch before I was against it!' 

- President Barack Obama